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!