Me, age 2, huntin' & peckin'
My first real attempt to write a book happened at age 9. It consisted of five chapters, one page per chapter with an illustration at the top of each page and text below. The story was about a mouse-sized girl called Zora who made her own way in the world with the help of magic and insects and woodland creatures. I struggled, just as all beginning authors struggle, with how to open the story and how to move the action along and how to know when the story was at an end. I was frustrated and dissatisfied with my drawings that came nowhere near the delicate and detailed illustrations drawn by Garth Williams that I envisioned for my book:
Garth Williams' cover for A Cricket in Times Square
Eventually my book was exiled under the bed and consumed by rabid dust bunnies. From this distance I see that my story of Zora was a childish mash-up of Walt Disney's Tinkerbell, Hans Christian Andersen's Thumbelina, and Rodgers' and Hammerstein's Cinderella, but it felt so utterly original when I was creating it. And I continued to dream that I would grow up to be warmly embraced by children and teachers and librarians, and readers of every stripe, when I was invited to give author talks and read from my books at schools and bookstores everywhere.
As a teen I wrote regularly in a journal intended to be my defense against the moment when my future child wailed "You just don't understand". It was not creative writing, but I filled pages with adolescent emotion and drama.
I dreamed of entering and winning writing contests. I dreamed of living in a two-story farmhouse with a library on the top floor where my old wooden desk sat in front of a window overlooking fruit trees in the yard.
I haven't written another book. I never entered any writing contests. And I don't live in a farmhouse. I don't dream that I am warmly embraced by children and teachers and librarians, or that I am invited to give author talks and read from my books at schools and bookstores everywhere. But I do live in a beautiful two-story house with an office on the top floor where I sit at a keyboard and blog.
I have always been, and will always be, a Writer.