“Someday I want to write a children’s book.”
When I graduated from high school, we seniors were asked to share some of the things we wanted to accomplish in our lives. I don’t remember imparting any lofty goals such as discovering a cure for a horrible disease or brokering world peace, but I do remember my dream of writing and publishing. I used to regale a couple of high school friends with an ongoing story of a talking elephant named Hogarth. (What can I say? I was seventeen at the time.)
Majoring in English would have made sense when I enrolled in college. I chose music education instead––after all, I could always write in my free time. I managed to squeeze four years of college into six and landed a teaching position when I graduated. I worked with second graders every day, reading them tons of children’s books––just not one of my own. I figured I still had plenty of time. And of course when I wrote my book, publishers would clamor to sign me on as a client. I might have to give up on Hogarth but it would be easy to find new characters, right?
I taught for several years, married, began to raise two daughters. A few years more and I entered the joyful ranks of homeschoolers, which became a twenty year project.
The dream persisted.
Half-finished stories littered file folders, desk drawers, and my imagination. One day, excited and expectant, I took a correspondence course in children’s literature, after which the harsh reality of writing and publishing hit. I submitted many of my remarkable stories to publishers. And received equal amounts of rejection letters. Even though Hogarth didn’t appear in a single one of them, editors, as far as I could tell, didn’t find my submissions remarkable at all. Discouraged and disillusioned, I turned my attention to family, homeschooling, and music.
By the time my daughters had grown up and left the nest, though the embers of my dream smoldered, I thought I was probably too old to pursue this desire anymore. But when a friend invited me to a local writers’ group, I stepped out of my comfort zone, squared my shoulders, and joined them. The ladies––some published, some not––were lovely. I kept attending; they kept encouraging me to forge ahead.
One day a breeze seemed to stir those dream embers.
I remembered tales of my dad’s adventures as a boy on the family farm. A story began to take shape. I began to write.
There were setbacks and times of frustration but also times of pure joy as I penned the adventures. No talking elephants but a few silly barnyard animals lived on the pages.
Chapter after chapter I shared with the writers’ group. They critiqued, edited, encouraged me to persevere. They even fell in love with my characters. The stories multiplied until I finally held in my hand a full-length middle grade historical fiction novel.
The years have flown by since I voiced my ambition in high school. The time between then and now has been full of life––joys, sorrows, ups, downs. But the desire has remained, waiting patiently to be fanned into bright flames.
The dream. I can say it now and I will.
“Someday is here. I wrote a children’s book!”
Photo of Christy by Michael Sheets