Stephanie writes young adult contemporary novels and is the creator of GoTeenWriters.com. Her novels include The Reinvention of Skylar Hoyt series (Revell) and the Ellie Sweet books (Playlist). You can connect with her on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and check out samples of her work on her author website including the free novella, Throwing Stones.
Some of you have heard me say this in interviews, but I decided when I was six that when I grew up, I wanted to write books. In first grade, we had writing time everyday. For fifteen minutes (or maybe more, I don't know) we got out our writing folders and wrote stories about whatever we wanted.
When we were done with a story, we took it down to this closet of a room at the school to have it "published." We picked our cover and the stickers or art work. We picked the color of the binding. And then we left our handwritten story there to be typed up for us. (This was 1990, so it's not like there was an abundance of computers floating around Willow Glen Elementary.)
Several days later, our books would be returned to us to illustrate. Once we were done illustrating, we read our story to the class. And then the whole process started over.
My mother saved mine, and I'm so glad.
I keep the books in my office to remind myself that I wasn't talented. At all.
I wouldn't even say I was talented "for a first grader." There isn't a drop of brilliance in my prose that hints I would grow up to be an author. I'll prove it:
|Yep. The first book I wrote is called "Stephanie." That's how creative of a child I was. And wow, that clashes with my orange office.|
|"Dedicated to my Mommy, Daddy, and my dog. |
Once upon a time there was a little girl."
|"Her name was Stephanie." (Which I indicated with these flowers...?)|
|"She had a little dog." (And apparently only one color of crayon.)|
|"The dog's name was Toby."|
|"The little dog said 'Arf, arf.'"|
|"Stephanie pet her dog."|
I promise you that the nice woman who typed this up for me was not thinking, "Wow. I might be typing up a story for a girl who will sometime be a real author!"
No, I had no talent. But a lack of inherent talent can be overcome by enthusiasm and tenacity, and if you had been observing my enthusiastic and tenacious first grade self, then you might have guessed writing stories was in my future. Because I loved writing stories. I was one of the most enthusiastic students when it was story writing time. And I didn't just write at school, I wrote at home without being asked. (Mostly about horses and meeting Joey McIntyre from New Kids on the Block.)
As I've grown up, I've noticed that people who rely more on their talent than they do hard work seem to fall into the trap of laziness and eventually slip into mediocrity. Being born without a shred of talent means I had to work hard to be any good at all.
So if you're not feeling very talented at the moment, don't worry about that. When Michael Phelps, the most decorated Olympic swimmer of all, was asked about why he's done so well, he said he "stayed in the pool longer." You could argue that he was also born with a healthy body and all that, but I love the answer he gave because it's something I can do too. I can't make myself more talented or poetic, but I can work hard and write longer.
What are your writing plans today?