I won my first – and ONLY – creative writing award in the third grade (Thank you, Mrs. Larsen!) for a short story called, “A Pet for Me,” that I wrote and illustrated myself.
The win scored me a seat at the Young Author’s Conference in Connecticut and set me on my path to being a professional writer. My mother, who still swears that “A Pet for Me” is one helluva good children’s story, was so convinced by its glory, that she sent it to a publishing house to see if we could get it published.
Only… it didn’t quite turn out like that.
Rejected. My dreams were crushed.
I stayed away from story writing for a while after that but spent time dabbling in poetry until one day in the fourth grade when I decided it was time to start writing a chapter book.
Determined, I pulled out a stack of paper, folded it in half and stapled it for the binding. I drew the cover and numbered the pages. And then put the table of contents (page numbers included) in the beginning.
My mother was confused. “How do you know which page the chapters will start on when you haven’t even written the story yet?”
Being young and naïve, I didn’t understand that the chapter ends when you’re ready to move on to the next part of the story – it could be one page, it could be twenty-one pages — but there really is no way of knowing until you actually start writing and get to the point when you are ready to move on.
It’s a lot like life actually.
If while in my young 20s I had laid out my adult life into the chapters I anticipated, it surely would have turned out a lot differently than it actually did.
Just this morning, my best friend said to me, “It’s great to see you so excited about this writing thing, but I’ve seen your writing and you’re a whiz at this stuff. You should be writing a book.”
Maybe she’s right.
But let me finish writing the chapters first.