Mindy Hardwick's Blog

Author Mindy Hardwick Muses about Writing

Memory of Norma Fox Mazer

on October 19, 2009

Norma Fox Mazer died this weekend at the age of 78. Elizabeth Bluemle has posted a great tribute to Norma on her blog.

Norma was my mentor into children’s writing. In the summer of 2003, I was one of the few adults chosen to attend the National Book Foundation Summer Writing Camp. Norma was on the faculty.

Besides from attending the Writing Camp, I was also combining that trip East with a trip to see my Dad–someone who I hadn’t seen for ten years. At the time, I was just beginning to work on what would later become my tween novel, Girl on a Thin Wire. A story which would evolve to be about artistic mentorship.

Norma’s workshop was at the end of the Summer Writing Camp, and my nerves were shot. Nervous and anxious about the upcoming visit with my Dad, and on overload from the writing week, I dissolved into a serious crying fit in Norma’s workshop. She patiently sat with me, handing me Kleenex and comforting me, while I sobbed. It was as if all the grief I’d ever felt had chosen that moment to erupt.

After I finished crying and sheepishly wiped my eyes, Norma suggested that I apply for the Vermont College MFA Writing for Children Program. It was something she had been encouraging me to do all week–but this time I heard her.

A year later, I walked into the Vermont College office on my first day of residency and there was Norma–welcoming me with a warm smile and a hug.

I never had Norma as an adviser during my time at Vermont, but she was always there during residency giving me hints about what to work on next and reminding me to be sure and work on short story. When it came time to give my graduate lecture, Norma quickly rearranged her schedule to be at that lecture.

Norma’s legacy to me was mentorship. I think of her often when I work with the youth in detention, or mentor young writers. The picture below, which was taken at the National Book Foundation Workshop Group, hangs on my bulletin board. If you look very carefully, you will see Norma peaking out from the middle of the group behind the young lady in white. The picture looks down on me as I write–reminding me of Norma’s spirit and legacy….to tell the story which means the most to you and be giving in your time and talents.

National Book Foundation Summer Writing Group

National Book Foundation Summer Writing Group

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2 responses to “Memory of Norma Fox Mazer

  1. […] few years later, I attended the National Book Foundation Summer Writing Camp. In a workshop with Norma Fox Mazer, I cried after reading a piece about my Dad.  That began my journey into the Vermont College […]

  2. […] passed away on October 18, 2009 and I blogged about it here. Sometimes, I don’t think our mentors always get to see that final moment when we break […]

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