Wednesday, September 7, 2011

An Example for Insecure Writers

Today I'm posting for the Insecure Writer's Support Group, hosted by Alex J. Cavanaugh. If you're feeling a little insecure and need a place to commiserate this is the time to do it. If you have been there, done that and now think you can offer some encouragement to your fellow writers this is also the time to do it. To be honest, I thought I would be squarely in the first camp. After all, I'm probably the world's most insecure person. However, I have been inspired by something in real life lately, and I want to share it with you.


My eldest daughter, Luthien Tinuviel, has always been very advanced with her verbal skills. She learned to use complete sentences very early and has just about been driving us crazy ever since. In addition, she has a strong artistic streak. We have large boxes full of all the art she's made over the past few years. Then about 4 years ago with grandma's help she made us a picture book for Christmas. It was all about Dora the Explorer. Luthien dictated and grandma wrote everything down, word for word. Where it lacked coherency it more than made up for it on the "About the Author" page. It goes like this:

My name is "who is the bear?" I read about the three bears book. My real name is Luthien McCabe. I'm 4. I like food, waterfalls, and streams. I like to play a game. I like to build a snowman in wintertime. I like to go to Grandma's house. My family was eaten by really ugly polar bears. They were black and ugly. I tricked you. My family was saved by a beautiful angel with a magic wand. I love you Daddy, Mommy and Maedhros. 

Over the next few years there were a few more books. A book all about princesses. A book called "Me in the Mirror" where her creativity really began to shine. Then she discovered Narnia and became a little obsessed. Her next book was all about her journey to the real Narnia where she played games with Prince Rillian. She wanted to publish it. "You can't publish it, sweetie," I told her. "It's copyrighted. No one else can publish books about Narnia except the C.S. Lewis estate." She had a hard time accepting this since she firmly believed that Narnia is a real place. Why couldn't she write books about a real place? No matter, she moved on.

Luthien and Maedhros drawing together.

The last year has been marked by different attempts to write something she could publish. It was easy while she was writing fanfiction, but eventually she moved on to original works. I struggled with how I could tell her that her childish, barely legible picture books drawn in spiral notebooks were not publishable. But I'm nothing if not straightforward so I just told her. "They're not really good enough to publish." And I fervently prayed that I wasn't discouraging her from writing stories altogether. She kept trying. "Is this one good enough to publish yet?" "Not yet." Eventually she stopped asking, but when I would tell her how much I liked her story she would ruefully comment, "But not good enough to publish." At some point I explained to her that 8 year-olds don't generally get to publish books, especially when they are so sloppy about spelling and punctuation. Even that did not discourage her.

This entire summer she's been filling notebooks with stories. Mostly episodes of the Thundercats with the new Thundercat Leperda and she recently started a He-Man/Thundercats crossover. She doesn't talk about publishing them. She knows she needs to learn and practice. It hasn't dimmed her creative fire. Yesterday she started a new one. She hasn't let me see it yet. She's worried I won't like it because it's too "boyish". I told her I can't wait to see it.

Her determination and her sheer output are putting me to shame. At this point, I'm going to have to get my act together if I want to publish before she does. But like her, I'm not going to let it discourage me. I'm going to take up this challenge and I'm going to keep working and practicing until I have something I can publish. I will be an author!

12 comments:

  1. Such an inspiring story. If only we could keep that surety in adulthood that we have as children. Thanks for sharing this. Your daughter seems very determined. I'm sure she'll be published before me.

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  2. Your daughter sounds wonderful! I hope her dream comes true- and yours of course. I once babysat a precocious little girl who told me proudly about how she'd written a story for school and hadn't used the same word so much as twice to describe anything. (I'm imagining a lot of adverbs must have followed the word 'said.') She must have been about eight at that point as well, but she was probably already a better writer than me!

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  3. Now that is really awesome! She will be a writer because she's so determined. And a Thundercats/He-Man story? I like that idea!

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  4. That's fantastic! Your daughter is amazing. She is an inspiration. I hope both your dreams come true. :)

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  5. Your daughter has got tougher skin than me. :)

    But you're right, it takes determination to be a writer, not just talent and desire. Good luck to both of you!

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  6. Your daughter sounds amazing. :)

    Great post!

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  7. Your daughter sounds great, can't wait to read her debut novel!

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  8. Thanks everyone. She is very special. I told her I wrote this about her and she was embarrassed. But she was very glad you liked her He-Man/Thundercats idea, Alex!

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  9. She sounds awesome. I'd love to have that kind of drive in most things I do :P He-Man/Thundercats sounds like a pretty epic story too :) Maybe you could 'publish' a story of hers on the blog?

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  10. Oh my gosh... I love her! What a sweet gift you have in your daughter and yes, you better get on the ball!
    At one point I was hoping like mad my kids would catch the reading/writing bug like I did. However, it didn't happen. Reading is a frustration for both of my kids as one is dyslexic. I have a sneaking suspicion they both are but my daughter won't admit to it due to some harsh times in high school. BUT! She is a songwriting machine and very gifted in music. So her talent just shines in a different light.
    Great post!

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  11. What a great story, and what a great creative kid you have. I second (or third, or whatever place in line I am) her He-Man/Thundercats story. She needs her own writing blog, Mom.

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  12. I kind of love that you named your kids after characters from the Silmarillion.

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