Monday, February 13, 2012

Origins


Today I'm participating in the Origins Blogfest created by DL Hammons and co-sponsored by Alex J. Cavanaugh, Matt at the QQQE, Katie at Creepy Query Girl.


The topic: Tell us where your writing dreams began.

I’m not sure dreams had anything to do with it. That is to say, I didn’t dream of becoming an author as a child or even a teen. However, I’ve always had an active imagination and have always loved to write.

As a kid I could easily lose myself in my imagination, whether it was with a friend or by myself. Playing “house” (which took on various forms: family, famous rock star, animal hospital), creating scenarios with stuffed animals or dolls, creating comic strips and stories revolving around my favorite toys were my favorite forms of childhood play. I remember tap-tap-tapping on my mom’s manual typewriter, erasable typing paper, and the correcting pencil – rubber eraser on one end, brush on the other - to fix pesky typos. The adventures of Ellie and Marie were the first writings I received praise for at the ripe old age of 8 or 9. 

After that my 4th grade teacher, whom I adored, asked if she could submit my poem to Jack and Jill, a children’s publication. Of course I said, “Okay,” but soon got my first taste of rejection – a “thank you for submitting but we can’t accept your poem at this time” type of letter. I was heartbroken for about 5 minutes. What stuck was that someone looked past the quiet, shy girl and believed that something I wrote was good enough to send in to a magazine. I still have the pleasure of seeing that teacher occasionally when I visit the library. In 5th grade my essay on some forgotten topic (how awful that I can’t remember) won a citywide writing contest. I was embarrassed as all heck and couldn’t quite believe I won, but it made an impression. This was something I was good at.

Still, I never considered writing as a career. Writing a novel seemed beyond anything that I could ever accomplish. As a teen I wrote in diaries and journals, but I kept those to myself and honestly, they were reflective, not creative, except for the occasional poem. During my college years, it was common for my friends and I to exchange letters. These were the days before cell phones (our floor shared 1 pay phone in the hallway) and email, so we kept in touch by writing to each other. We’d share news, stories about college life, with a mix of heart and wit – great training ground for developing our own unique writing voice.

As an elementary teacher my love of children's literature grew in leaps and bounds. I loved reading and sharing Francis Hodgson Burnett, Roald Dahl, Beverly Cleary, among others with my classes. My biggest hope was that the kids would learn to love reading as much as I did.

Writing and reading of any kind took a back seat to raising a young family. It wasn’t until I discovered Harry Potter, read J.K. Rowling’s inspirational story, and joined a site devoted to discussing all things HP that I began to consider writing for children myself. With the encouragement of a close knit group of dear online friends I began testing my writing skills and researching the publishing world on the net.

Interest quickly turned to passion, an absolute love of expressing myself through the written word. I don’t know if I’ll ever be published, but the journey has been fantastic so far.

20 comments:

  1. I tried using my mum's typewriter too. A very bad idea, with lots of screwed up paper being thrown across the room. You're the second person I've read who had supportive teachers - I love that!

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  2. JK Rowling and authors like her are so inspirational. I remember actually writing to my friends too. Those were the good ol' days. I kind of miss it actually. Thanks for sharing your origins!

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  3. It's amazing how support from other writers can keep you going (or get you going). Great story!

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  4. So many of the writers on the Origins blogfest had teachers who pushed them to submit work. Nice to see that all in common.

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  5. I think Rowling and Harry had a huge effect on a lot of us!

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  6. I spent a lot of time writing but nothing ever thinking, "hey, maybe I should be a writer."

    I love that you had supportive teachers. I reading that in so many of these origin stories.

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  7. Sounds similar to my own writing story! Fifth grade contest and everything! Nice to meet you via the bloghop!

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  8. Hi Suzie!
    I'm dropping by from the Origins Blogfest. Loved reading about how you got started. I'm a big Potter fan myself, and reading JK Rowling's own writing origins certainly inspired me too.

    Nutschell
    www.thewritingnut.com

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  9. I exchanged old fashioned letters with another writer friend for years... we considered ourselves to be fairly mature writers because of this! :-) It's not till I got into blogging that I realized how unprofessional we were - but it was still wonderful and helped me grow as a writer. It's so neat that your love of teaching and kid's books eventually brought you to the point of considering writing - Rowling's story is amazing, isn't it?

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  10. Interesting post; thanks for sharing your story. Funny, mine involved a fifth grade essay contest, too. Only it was back in the 50s, and I didn't win! (Kinda the same, but different, right?)

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  11. The only guaranteed way to fail is to stop trying. Keep at it!

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  12. Love your story! This is such a cool bloghop idea. Keep up on the writing, it sounds like your really passionate about it. Thanks for stopping by.

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  13. Somebody recognized your talent early on, and that type of feedback is immeasurable. Kudo's to you for developing your talent and seeing where it takes you. Thank you for sharing your story today! :)

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  14. Isn't this a great blogfest? And so great how we each are inspired to write in a different way. Thanks for sharing your story.

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  15. Thanks so much for sharing your story! This blogfest has been a great way to get to know the backstory of so many bloggers. It truly is amazing to think how wide JK Rowling's inspiration does reach!

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  16. A very interesting story. I, too, remember the manual typewriter. In fact, I keep mine visible in my room for comfort. Good luck to you ...

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  17. The journey IS fantastic!

    Playing "Animal Hospital" ~ LOVED that one! Thought I would be a vet.

    Playing "House". Thought I would be a mommy.

    Both came true, except the being paid part as a Vet. I am the first ambulatory care, however, that ours receive here at Barefoot Acres.

    It's good getting to know you better here on the Fest, Suzi!

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  18. Excellent "origins" tale and very inspirational! I think it's wonderful that as a child you focused on the fact that someone believed in you and your poem, rather than the rejection. Good for you! I'm still working on that part! Looking forward to your future posts. :)

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  19. I Love your story! just keep it up and write more.

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