The past few days have been quite busy with my writing. I signed a contract with my illustrator for my children’s book, “Uncle Bill’s Farm,” had a book signing on Saturday with Deb Waite (“Cat Tales, Mews by Gracie) and Judie Ohm (Turret Tales), worked on promotion (which I hate), and continued to work on another children’s book.
The best part of my writing, though has been watching my granddaughters write. The fourth-grader has been writing stories since she was in second grade. It has been a thrill watching ideas flow from her brain to paper. The improvement in her stories has been fun, too. Her teachers, thankfully, work with their students on writing stories. I’ve been trying to get her to finish a very cute story she wrote about a jealous cat and the dog park, but like a lot of writers, she gets excited about the next idea and doesn’t follow through. I don’t want to squash her excitement for writing.
Two weeks ago when I went to her house to sit, I saw a story on the table. Stapled to it was a sheet of notes. The story was about a wild animal (do you think I can remember which one? Of course not.) that she and a friend researched on the internet, took notes and wrote a story – not a report – a story. This was not an assignment for school. They did it for fun. Man, it brings tears to my eyes.
When “Uncle Bill’s Farm” comes out next year, you will see both my name and hers on the cover. She helped write it. I will have to admit I did most of the writing, but I also have to admit she helped a lot. I’m hoping the book will be ready before the end of the school year so I can bring it into her classroom on its “birthday” to celebrate with her friends. I for one will have a hard time controlling the tears.
Now we come to the first-grader. Last spring her parents and I figured out she could read, but was hiding that fact. Little stinker. We spent the summer working with her, having her read to us, but she was resistant. Every once in a while she would “accidentally” read something and then realize what she was doing and stop.
On Monday of this week, I worked with her on her sight words. To make it more fun, I put all the words face up and said we were going to make sentences. There were about forty words. I made the first sentence. It was rather hard since there were no nouns (except for can, which I believe was not supposed to be a noun in this case). Her first sentence was three words. Then five words. Then eight words. She was having so much fun, she forgot what she was doing. She even made more cards for words that weren’t sight words so her sentences were better.
A short time after this, I went back to writing, the fourth-grader was working on her story and the four-year old was coloring. I heard her say: “I’m writing a story.” She got out a notebook and wrote: “The hres ran away.” Three of the words were sight words. Her next sentence: “The hres ran away to a farm.” (In case you can’t sound out her word, it’s horse.)
I can’t remember what else she wrote, but it struck me that I was sitting outside, on the porch writing stories with my granddaughters. The rest of the afternoon and that night, I lost count of the number of times she said, “I went back to my story,” or “When I was writing my story…” It was the first thing she showed her daddy when he got home from work. The next day her notebook went with her in my van so she could write on the way to school.
Man, the emotions were rolling through me. Will they ever get published? Who knows. Will they become famous authors? Who cares. At this time in their lives they are having fun and enjoying something that is a passion of mine. I couldn’t be prouder. Now if I could only get the fourth-grader to start a story with something other than “It was a dark and stormy night.” Oh well, baby steps.