Somehow, I can still remember the first story I ever wrote. By this I mean the first one I ever committed to paper. It was for a story contest in first grade, and I am still proud to say that I won first place. It was titled, An Everyday Mystery, and it was a story about my grandmother’s cat, dog, and parakeet, who were all trying to figure out what a certain object was. Hint: it was a ball. How these three animals all found a common means of communication and somehow knew the names for most other objects they interacted with is unimportant, and should not be questioned by the reader.
Any kind of recognition is extremely encouraging for a young writer, especially an aspiring six year old. It doesn’t matter if the reward is just a piece of paper with a gold star an the words “first place” stenciled on it. Later, when I was in fifth grade, my teacher suggested I write a novel, one chapter a week, and read them to the class. As most of my friends know, I am somewhat of a ham, so this idea appealed to me a great deal.
I still remember the name of the story and most of the details. It was called The Mystery of the Golden Castle, and I wrote it in a bound blue journal that had a sparkly unicorn on the cover. The novel was about a girl named Donna whose parents made her stay in a house somewhere in upstate New York for the summer. Once she got there, she began having vivid dreams of a castle appearing in the woods. Her and her three friends, who strangely had the same names as my best friends at the time, rode their horses (what eleven year old girl isn’t obsessed with horses?) into the woods to find the castle and spent the rest of the book talking to the ghosts of the former inhabitants,
trying to figure out why the castle was there.
Now that I’m thinking about it, the story isn’t half bad. I just wish I still had that sparkly unicorn notebook! Anyway, the point here is that encoragement, particularly at a young age, can be very helpful to aspiring writers. I hope that my son (who is currently only 19 months old and still working on writing his name) will get the kind of encouragement from his teachers that I did. But encouragement at any age is helpful! Whenever I get a review, it gives me an
extraordinarily huge push to continue writing.
In fact, those first few scary days after New Blood was published, I practically held my breath before I started getting some reviews on my Amazon site! But once they started rolling in, they were not only a great boost to my confidence, but got me to finish Wild Blood way ahead of schedule. And I don’t think it’s my issue–I am fairly convinced that most, if not all, writers are fairly insecure people who need a gold star every now and then.