My Writing Journey
I have to admit, I was not a reader as a child. Not because I didn’t want to read. Believe me, I did. I just couldn’t read. Words were a mystery to me. I remember sitting at the feet of our librarian, listening intently to every word she read. I’d take that book home hoping some of the magic of her reading would wear off on me.My teachers were frustrated with me. My parents were frustrated. But more importantly, I was frustrated. No one wants to not be able to read. No one wants to be grouped as a non-reader in the blackbird group.
I stumbled through school. I’m not sure how I passed from grade to grade. But it wasn’t until 5th grade that I finally started to find some success in reading. Thank you, Miss Cabbage. You read to us daily. You encouraged me, my imagination, my artistic abilities, and my love for fossils. But even more, you encouraged my reading, as jagged as it was.
The following year I wrote my first book, Chilly Willy, after a favorite cartoon character. In junior high and high school I tried my hand at poetry and continued writing about the angst and loves of a teenaged girl. Thank you, Mr. Marshall, for not laughing at my feeble attempts. You believed I had talent.
In college, I worked at an English minor. Had it not been for my roommate, Gail Johnston, I am not sure I would have ever achieved that minor. Back then we had typewriters. She was my spell check, and my mentor.
After college, I began teaching kindergarten. I read several books a day to my students. I became inspired. I wanted to write something for them. I figured, how hard can it be to write a picture book? After twelve years of writing, taking classes, reading everything I could on the subject, rewriting, getting rejected, attending conferences, joining the Society of Children’s Book Writers, getting mentors, (thank you, Rhonda, Stephanie, Judy, Dandi, and many more) I finally had success. My first book, Why Cowboys Sleep With Their Boots On, was accepted.
It has been many years since that first acceptance letter back in 1994. I have been blessed to continue to have the joy of writing and selling manuscripts. And so in thanksgiving, I pass it on by teaching other people who are on the writing journey. I also offer school visits. In between discussing parts of a story, and reading one of my books I encourage kids to claim their God-given talents. I talk honestly about my difficulties, hoping to inspire and affirm a child who is having difficulty. Also hoping to touch the heart of a teacher, reminding him or her why he or she became a teacher in the first place.
I began as a non-reader who became a reader and then a writer. I still have days where I reverse a letter or two. I still have trouble with my spelling. But success isn’t being perfect. Success is taking the risk to use your talents and achieve. Thank you, God, for the gifts of being: a wiggler, a talker, a kid with a big imagination, a child who could draw, and girl who desperately wanted to read.