A blog about the amazing things teenagers do, about writing for teens, books for teens, and occasional forays into my world and the world of publishing.

Monday, December 13, 2010

A Writer's First Attempt

I had a moment of mommy triumph tonight as I tucked my 6-year-old into bed. You know one of those--"Wow, I might just be doing okay at this raising kids thing." It wasn't a huge moment like:"My kid just graduated with a 4.0 and is trying to decide between the four Ivy League colleges he's been accepted to." But it was significant to me. The moment was this, as he climbed into the top bunk he had to move a bunch of stuff out of his way. But it wasn't just any stuff, it was BOOKS!!!

Yes, at the tender age of six my last child has become a reader. YAY me! And more than that, when I asked him what book he wanted me to read him, he said he wanted to read HIS book to me. One he had written himself called, THE SNOWMAN.

The (Proud) Mom Review

THE SNOWMAN is a well-written (for a 6-year-old), and beautifully illustrated (again for a 6-year-old), 8 page picture book about a boy who builds a snowman in his back yard and then shows it off for his friends and family.

The most compelling line for me:

One time a boy made a snowman,
and he named it Bob.

Mom came and said, "Bob?"

No, he didn't punctuate it correctly (he did spell "snow clothes" right on page 4 though) and the story was basic, but he wrote a book. It had a beginning, a middle, and an end. I love that he feels like he can do that, and I like to think he's following in my footsteps.

It made me think back to one of the first books I wrote. It was called AND THAT'S NOT ALL. (Although I was about 12 when I wrote that one.) I have a brother who is 9 years younger than me. I used to read books to him sometimes at bedtime. I got tired of it after a while so I wrote a rhyming picture book and made him memorize it. When he asked me to read him a bedtime story, I started the story and then said, you know the rest.

As a gift to him later that year, I wrote the book down, sewed the pages together, and had my friend do illustrations for each page. Essentially, I published a book.

It started like this:

There once was a mouse,
who lived in a house,

in a hole in the wall,
And that's not all...

I still have that book. When I got my book deal, my baby brother (now about 6 inches taller than me) posted on Facebook that he was proud to know that the first book I had ever written for was for him.

As long as I can remember I've wanted to be an author. At my mom's house there's a drawer full of my writing. My mom says she keeps it just in case there is a HARRY POTTER in there somewhere. (I doubt it, but it's a nice thought.) I've always thought of myself as a writer. So I guess I can say I've been honing my craft for some 25 years or so.

For all my writer friends out there, I want to know...

What was your first attempt? Have you always been a writer? When did you first put pen, (or crayon, or typewriter, or word processor) to paper with the design to create a story?

***Note, the illustrations for my first book were done by my friend Cheri Reynolds, when we were like 11 or 12? Cheri just finished her Nanowrimo novel. Congrats!***


  1. Okay, this is too cure for words. Thank you for sharing.

    I remember writing a picture book when I was a kid--but I was much more interested in the "drawing" part than the story. I didn't REALLY get into writing until my first year of college, when I'd decided I didn't want to be an art major anymore and needed to find something to switch to. Then it was like, Ohhhhh, why wasn't I focusing on this earlier???? :)

  2. Fun post! Those pictures are adorable. I love that your son has already written a book.

    I remember writing and illustrating stories at a young age, mostly featuring cats, and also writing radio serial scripts (what am I, 80?) and forcing my sister to act them out with me for our cassette recorder. We had so much fun creating the commercials, news programs, soap operas, dramas, talk shows and game shows. I think we ended up with about 10 double-sided tapes' worth of audio.

    I also liked using my mom's typewriter to write chapter books for my friends.

  3. This is adorable. Great post!

    The first, I dunno, 30 stories I wrote were all about large families with tons of dogs. The entire narrative was spent outlining who the characters were, their ages, their favorite colors, etc.

    I learned all that from the Babysitters Club Little Sister books, and took it to the extreme.

    I wrote everything in pencil and I illustrated the stories, too.

  4. Oh my goodness! I remember that project :) What an awesome happy memory to see again. I can't believe you still have that! I wonder if by chance you have any more of it scanned? I would dearly love to get a copy of it. Oddly enough, I still do some illustrating as a hobby. I just did some for a book that a writer friend of mine wrote; it's also a young adult novel. I have been reading your posts for a little bit now, and I wanted to say how proud I am of you for pursuing your writing. Please let me know where I might buy a copy of your book? I'm trying to write one myself that I started for NaNoWriMo. I don't know if I'll have the guts to actually attempt publication, but I certainly developed an appreciation for how much work is involved. So grats! I loved your facebook picture of your wrapped manuscript :) I understand the feeling! Best Wishes, from your old friend Cheri.

  5. I should have totally put your name in this. I have the whole book. I should send it to you. Good luck with your writing and illustrating.

  6. What an adorable post Jennifer! And of course there's one book that comes to mind when you pose "firsts" to me. I had just finished 7th grade and a course in typing, enabling me to put down all the words rushing through my head. I was a big fan of the Trixie Belden mystery series, so I spent the summer writing my own similar story. There are handwritten additions all over the place, because....well....I didn't want to keep retyping the page when I made additions. (Apparently I was already thinking about editing at age 12 as well) I still have it in my file cabinet and my teenagers keep begging me to read it. :) I keep forgetting to pull it out, but maybe it's time.

    Thanks for sparking this memory.