Glenda Barbre's mission is to share positive stories
When she was in school, Rhododendron resident Glenda Barbre hated the idea of writing book reports. It wasn't the writing that she found repulsive; it was being forced to read some boring book and then chronicling the whole boring experience.
But instead of refusing to turn in a book report, Barbre decided to change the assignment a little.
'I never turned in a real book report,' Barbre confessed, comically unrepentant. 'I made up the stories.'
What's worse is that teachers never caught on to her supposed recaps of 'rare' books. She earned As for her reports.
Barbre said those assignments were the extent of her career as a fiction writer. Since then, Barbre, 65, has made nonfiction writing her calling, bringing true stories to life through narrative.
'I am called to be really real and to tell the truth,' said Barbre, 65, whose eyes light up when she talks about writing. 'It's ecstatic to be a writer.'
Barbre said she has been writing since she was 4, a discipline encouraged and refined by her mother, also a writer. By the time she was 17, she had her first paid writing gig as the Hoodland area correspondent for The Sandy Post, a job that paid $20 a week - 'a lot of money for a kid back then,' she said.
In the years that followed, Barbre parlayed her enthusiasm for writing into the classroom, where she worked for the public schools as a temporary writing instructor. At the various schools, including Sandy High, she helped young writers harness their gifts in poetry and creative writing and then assemble their works into school anthologies.
'I loved it,' she said, noting that the children did too, since 'I never had anyone absent from my class.'
In later years, Barbre has put all her energy into sharing her positive stories with as wide an audience as possible. Her upbeat, true stories have been published in the East Clackamas County Gazette, "Guideposts Angels on Earth", "Ripples of Joy" and, most recently, the 'Chicken Soup for the Soul' series.
Barbre's story, 'The Day My Sister Mailed Herself Away,' is featured in 'Chicken Soup for the Sister's Soul 2: Celebrating Love and Laughter in Our Lives,' which was released earlier this month nationwide.
As the title suggests, the narrative is about an incident in which Barbre's little sister, 6-year-old Lavelle, tried to send herself to her grandmother's house to avoid getting in trouble for eating some expensive, off-limit chocolates.
'She went out to the mailbox and sat there,' Barbre said. 'And it was after we had the deepest snowfall. It was like a blizzard out there.'
When the mailman came, he took Lavelle to the Rhododendron post office.
'We have a package here, Maudy,' he told the postmistress. 'She's mailing herself down to Depoe Bay.'
The postmistress said Lavelle had improper postage and put a stamp on her forehead.
In the meantime, 'I was crying,' Barbre recalled. 'It just tore up the whole family. We were just about to call the sheriff when the post office called and said, 'We have a package for you here.' '
'The Day My Sister Mailed Herself Away' is Barbre's second 'Chicken Soup' contribution. She published 'Sisters of the Attic,' a tale about playtime in her family's old attic that appeared in the first installment of 'Chicken Soup for the Sister's Soul.'
Barbre, who is no stranger to being published, is enthralled that another one of her stories will receive nationwide attention. But she wants others to know that they, too, can be published if they just try.
'Anyone can do this,' she said.
And she hopes others will, since 'there is always so much controversy spoken and written, perhaps we need more joy-based stories that warm our hearts, that bring laughter and surprise - life's serendipity instead of sorrow.'
That's her goal.
'And it's why I was put on this earth,' she said.
Making 'Chicken Soup'
To submit a true story to the 'Chicken Soup for the Soul' book series, visit www.chickensoup.com. Click on 'Call Outs' and follow the recipe (writer's guidelines).
About Glenda Barbre
Early inspiration: Barbe's mother, also a writer; Nancy Drew books and other mysteries.
First writing job: Although a self-proclaimed writer since age 4, Barbre's first paid job was as the 'Hoodland' correspondent for The Sandy Post, making $20 a week to write articles about ski races and other happenings on the mountain.
Other experience: Barbre taught creative writing and poetry workshops in the public schools, including Sandy High. She helped young writers harness their gifts and then assemble their works into school anthologies.
Works have appeared in: The East Clackamas County Gazette, Guideposts Angels on Earth, Ripples of Joy, Chicken Soup for the Sister's Soul, Chicken Soup for the Sister's Soul 2. One of her stories also provided the basis for a Christmas radio play out of San Jose, Calif., called 'The Candlemaker's Secret.'
Future project: 'Gifts from the Sideroads,' a collection of true stories from Barbre's travels around the country. 'I like to write about characters, about the nonconformists, about what's really going on in down-home, grassroots life in America.'
Focus: 'I will not write controversy,' Barbre said. 'There's enough of it in the world. I want to sprinkle a little joy on this sorrowful planet. I'm totally capable of painting a picture of the dark side of life, but I refuse to do so.'
Quote: 'Writing is why I've been put on this earth. I believe we all have a reason for being here, and mine is to write and make the world a better place by writing.'