Monday, 29 August 2011

Why Children Make Better Authors

If you’re anything like me, you have a crumpled piece of paper in a box somewhere, maybe handwritten in cursive, maybe typed up on your mom’s typewriter. There are some badly spelled words, many exclamation points, and a few totally illegible sentences.

There’s also a story. A small one, an incomplete one, but a story nonetheless.

And if you’re anything like me, you know that you will never write a more honest story in your life than that crumpled up paper.

Children have magic. I don’t know if anyone can deny that. As we grow older, we lose it a little bit. We get hurt, we learn lessons, and the magic wraps closer and closer to our very center. Aching, it shadows its face in our very deepest memories.

And when we learn that technically, wind is just air in movement and doesn’t have colors, mountains are mounds of earth and don’t have voices, the magic fades a little.

When we write a story, we coax that magic back to life.

Just enough.

Just enough to get the story across.

Just enough to not hurt.

Reason One: Children Don’t Know Better

Can you remember a time before you first noticed a disapproving glance? When no one ever told you to ‘stop dancing and keep still,’ when no one told you that you were lying when you reported the fairies you found in the garden?

I still remember an argument I had when I was seven, singing ‘Colors of the Wind’ to my heart’s content. My brother, a precocious ten year old , told me very matter-of-factly that the wind doesn’t have colors. Science told me he was right. I knew he was wrong. Mom sided with me, and I won the argument.

By the time I was ten, I would have lost that argument. And my writing suffers for it.

Reason Two: Children Don’t Care About Being ‘Published’

Pretty straight forward: so what if you’re the only one who knows? Children delight in secrets. They may broadcast their delight to the whole world, but if they’re the only ones who know something, suddenly life takes on a whole new level of coolness.

Your story is your secret. You are secret-agent-author, writing a groundbreaking phenomenon that the rest of the world is just not AWESOME enough to know about yet. And they will, and yes, it won’t be easy to get it out there. But for now, it’s your party.

Did you write any stories when you were a kid? Have you read them recently?




Suzie F. said...

I used to write stories about my favorite stuffed bear and her adventures with other animals. I don't have the stories anymore but I do have the stuffed bear. :)

Morgan said...

This was an awesome post! I think it's very true that, even though we gain a lot growing up, we loose a lot too.

I remember when I was little (maybe second or third grade) I wrote a whole series of stories about a girl who ran away to live with a colony of cats in a cottage in the middle of the forrest... I half wish I still had it, just for the amusement.

Riley Redgate said...

Oh, awesome post, Bethany! I have a whole catalog of my 'writings' from when I should have called them 'scribblings' (er, actually, my handwriting is still pretty abysmal) and there's still something special about that kind of unabashed belief that it COULD happen, it COULD be real, it COULD be true.

The best feeling in the world to me is getting a sense of that when I read! An actual sense of childish wonder, like I'm seeing something tangible and real unfold. Meep, I love stories.

Carrie Butler said...

Great post, Bethany! When I was little, I would staple a solid line down the side of the paper to "bind" it. Haha! :)

Sangu said...

So, so true. Children make better storytellers. Love this post!

Rachel Searles said...

Oh yes, I was a very prolific little child-author. I haven't looked at any of those writings in a long time, but I had so many ideas that I filled binders with them. Wish I could get some of that energy (and free time) these days!

Lauren W. said...

Great post! I still have some of my stories and poems from when I was younger and they're priceless to me! Sometimes my son says things in his magical way and it inspires me to put it into my writing. So even if you can't see the magic anymore you can still listen to the little children all around you for inspiration.

Laila Knight said...

That was a wonderful post. I still remember the time I was made fun of by an adult for wearing my superhero costume. I wish people would have left me to my magic...but you're right, each time we write we set that magic free. Imagine us all in a room weaving magic together. What fun. :)

Mark Noce said...

I'd say mostly "yes" kids make great authors, only their attention span can throw things off,. I have many, many unfinished books from childhood;)

Christina Lee said...

Um...your words were just pure magic up there (gorgeously written)!!

Becca Puglisi said...

I don't remember writing stories as a kid. I wish I could, because I love these remembrances of authors who can recall writing at such an early age. My first story was written at the tender age of 30. As such, there's really no excuse for how awful it was, lol.

Becca @ The Bookshelf Muse

Kristina said...

I'm 10 right now but when I was 5 I wrote my first story. I've been writing ever since. The book I wrote at 5 was published this week. I really like your blog! Thank you!