deaf community

Why Write?

There are days when I sit at the computer, hour after hour, and wonder why? Why sit here day in, day out reordering sentences and paragraphs, putting commas in, taking commas out of what I wrote just moments before, or a month ago, or, in the case of Girl Under Glass, the book I'm rewriting now, five years ago? It has already been rejected 6 times.

That was also the case with Hurt Go Happy. I spent years researching and writing that book, only to have it come back rejected over and over again. Then my agent quit me, and finally, after 15 years, I gave up. For the next three years, I continued to attend my writing group, but never turned anything in. I'm not sure what changed my mind about giving up. Maybe it's the idea that quitting ends whatever chance you had to make your dream come true, or your hard work pay off. 

Most of you know the rest of the story. What you might not know is the working title of Hurt Go Happy, American Sign Language for the pain has ended, was Without Voices.  I believed when I started researching and writing that book that it would give voice to the voiceless--abused children and abused animals. Big dream.

In the years since HGH was published, I've received a handful of letters that made those 18 years worthwhile. This is one of them. Oh boy, is this one of them!

Dear Ginny Rorby,

My name is Rosa Rodriguez. I am the Deaf Literacy Coordinator for the Pinellas Public Library Cooperative in Florida. I am working with the middle school teacher at Morgan Fitzgerald Middle School in Largo, Florida, who has a reading class of five 8th graders who are Deaf. 

These five students have never enjoyed reading.  National research done at Gallaudet University in Washington D.C. says that the average deaf high school student graduates at a third grade reading level.  It has been our passion to drastically change this sad statistic.  For these students, reading has been an arduous task that was always a requirement.  In an effort to show them the beautiful world of reading, the teacher decided to do a read aloud, Hurt Go Happy.

Hurt Go Happy opened a whole new world for the students.  For the first time, they truly learned the beauty and magic behind a book. They laughed imagining Sukari signing and cried when Dr. Charlie died.  They longed to yell at mom when she was oppressive to Joey and clapped when Joey fought back.  As a class they learned about social issues such as animal testing and the effects of abuse. They also went on a journey of emotions together- the steady wave of pain and joy.   

The teacher says: "Because of your book, their lives have been and will be radically changed. They would always ask if we could read one more chapter or stay past the bell just a few more minutes. They truly understand the feeling I-just-can’t-put-it-down.  To me, I saw a miracle happen in my classroom.  For maybe the first time in their lives, they fell in love with a book."

For their graduation of 8th grade on June 8th, we are requesting a letter to the students that we can read aloud at their graduation ceremony.   The Deaf Literacy Center at our public library will be purchasing your book as a gift to the students and we would love to include your letter with the book.

With sincere thanks,

Alissa Matiya
Deaf Educator
Morgan Fitzgerald Middle School

Rosa Rodriguez, MS

Deaf Literacy Coordinator
Pinellas Public Library Cooperative, Inc.

Hurt Go Happy Commercial   by Alissa Matiya's deaf students