Wednesday, January 22, 2014

The Wonder of Books

 Looking at the above image, I have to ask myself, "Why do I write for kids?" and "What do I really want to give them?"

I want my books to instill a passion for reading. Of course, I want them to learn, but mostly, I want them to enjoy every moment of it, because it is my belief that the two go hand in hand. Learning happens organically when a person is satisfied and passionate about something.

I want to impact their lives. But how? What are the best ways to do that? This is a loaded question; one that I could never answer in a few hundred words, but it does make me think about the changes that have taken place in children's literature over the years.

I remember reading stories like Secret Garden, National Velvet and The Little Princess. I adored stories that carried me outside of my own world and into new realities. While today's books are arguable much less literary in nature, they do the same thing - create new worlds. And, most importantly,  they get kids reading.

Changes in today's educational standards and the introduction of Common Core Standards (don't get me started) have given us pause. We now must question ourselves and where our careers in writing for kids are headed. It has forced me to revisit my intentions in this career choice. "Does it matter what I WANT to write? Or what I WANT to give kids through my book?" Well, if it doesn't matter, then I'm in the wrong business.

I am a firm believer in this statement: As a children's writer, I strive to instill wonder, passion and amazement. With that, answers will come. Answers that are "given" are all too easily forgotten. I wrote this recently without thinking how many questions it imparts. I want my readers to wonder why. I want their eyes to open to new possibilities. And, I want them to crave the written word.

Questions aside, I will continue to write for kids. And I will continue to create stories that will, I hope, beget joy and learning in its readers.

Sunday, January 19, 2014

I AM a writer

My journey of writing for kids began long ago. Once upon a time, in my teens I thought about writing. I toyed with it a bit in my twenties, gave it a passing glance in my thirties, but there always seemed to be something in the way, not the least of which was my own self-doubt.

Throughout those years, I was busy with teaching, family, and other life stuff with barely a moment to myself. So, writing took a hit. I look back now, and realize that it was, in fact, all a part of the journey that would prepare for taking this job seriously. I was exploring and learning along the way, whether I knew it or not. Every stage of life allowed me valuable lessons, all leading me to this point. "What doesn't kill you makes you stronger" has new meaning.  

There were hints along the way that I should continue down this path.  Little whispers that made my mind drift, again to the possibilities of writing for kids; comments from parents at school who insisted that my ideas should be shared, ideas from my own children that would lend themselves to beautiful stories, my job as a writer/editor for a regional magazine in which people convinced me that I could, actually, write!

I know now, that I didn't start writing for kids seriously in my twenties or even my forties for a reason. I just wasn't ready. I now have the time, the life experience, and the confidence to take myself and this job seriously. For the first time, ever, I'm not shy about referring to myself as a writer and I don't care who hears, or who else believes it, for that matter.

I know that the self-doubt will creep in from time to time. And I know, now, why I let those feeling trip me up in the past; because I wanted it so badly. It's harder, sometimes, to try something you REALLY want, because.... well, if you don't try, you won't fail. That's not good enough for me anymore.

The difference, now, is that I believe this is what I was meant to do. And I believe in myself. So, watch out world. Here I come. I am a writer.