Strength and Determination
By ERIN JENNINGS
North Kitsap Herald Kitsap Week
January 14, 2011 · Updated 11:29 AM
Debbie Macomber’s real life story could be a plot from one of her many novels – a heroine overcoming an obstacle.
“I grew up dyslexic,” said the New York Times best-selling author and Kitsap resident. “Well, I still am. It’s not something that goes away.”
Growing up in Yakima, Macomber struggled in school and didn’t learn to read until she was 10. She remembers her third- grade teacher telling her mother, “Debbie is a nice little girl, but she’s never going to do well.”
That stigma followed her all the way through high school where she graduated in the bottom of her senior class.
Although she struggled with written language, Macomber was a natural storyteller and always dreamed of being an author.
“When you have that kind of baggage and background, it’s very easy to make excuses to not do something that involves writing and grammar and all the things I struggle with,” said Macomber, who splits her time between Port Orchard and Florida.
When a close cousin died, Macomber realized she couldn’t put off her dreams any longer. With four young children at home, she took the leap toward her writing aspirations.
“I realized there is never going to be the perfect time so I went out and rented a typewriter and put it on the kitchen table,” Macomber said.
Thirty years later and with 140 million copies of her books in print, Macomber has reached a stature many strive toward, but few accomplish. And all the while, overcoming her learning disability.
Macomber is living proof that people who learn differently than others can go on to accomplish great things. Macomber said she believes there is a balance in life and often people who have a learning challenge have been given another talent.
She said such gifts often show themselves as extreme creativity. The singer Cher and actor Patrick Dempsey are among the many famous dyslexics.
Macomber said she realized if she was going to become successful, she needed to learn how to run a business. She scoured over business books. In all the books she read it became evident that it was important for her to write a mission statement.
“That’s really hard to do,” Macomber said. She put the mission statement idea in the back of her mind to mull over. One day while she was reading her Bible, a line “bolded itself right before my eyes and I knew right then and there it would be my mission statement,” she said. The line was “You will be a blessing.” Since then, she uses the line to guide her and her writing.
Macomber has used her strength in story telling to write numerous best selling books and she’s still writing. Currently, Macomber is working on revisions for “1105 Yakima Street” which is the penultimate book in her popular Cedar Cove series.
Her book “Family Affair” was recently rereleased. The story centers around a recently divorced woman trying to find strength and love while dealing with a pregnant cat.
When asked if she’d encountered someone reading one of her books, Macomber recalled the first time she saw a stranger reading one.
“I was in an airport and saw a woman reading ‘Between Friends.’ I went up to the woman and said, ‘Thank you for reading the book.’ She just looked at me and I said, ‘Oh! I’m Debbie. I wrote that book.’”
Macomber has a dedicated fan base and interacts often with her followers. Part of her daily routine is to read every piece of mail and each guest book entry on her website.
Sometimes fans don’t even know they are speaking with her. Macomber, an avid knitter, attended a knitting conference. She and a friend went to eat at a restaurant. Still wearing her name badge from the conference, Macomber sat down.
When the waitress came over to take their order, she said, “Oh my goodness! You have the same name as my favorite author.”
Macomber didn’t tell the waitress that she was indeed the Debbie Macomber.
Instead, once the waitress left, Macomber turned to her friend and said, “See! I told you I don’t look like my publicity photos!”Contact North Kitsap Herald Kitsap Week Erin Jennings at email@example.com or (360) 779-4464.