Welcome to the blog! For this first post, I thought I would essentially introduce myself so you know "who is this writer and why does she write?" before we really delve into the creative lifestyle and what you can expect from my book, The Fantastic Adventures of Captain Acorn.
I grew up in a family of avid readers and storytellers. Some of my earliest memories involve my parents reading to my sisters and I. I have enormously fond memories of learning about my mom's favorite eras of history through the historical fiction she read, and my Dad reading The Hobbit to us at bedtime.
There may have also been an unfortunate incident in which I felt so bad that Gollum lost his ring I cried and cried until my dad convinced me that he wasn't that great of a guy to begin with. A kid's got to learn about villainous characters sometime.
When I was nine, our homeschool co-op was having a student showcase. They held them every semester and any student who wanted to could show off something they had been working on or showcase a talent. We had everything from kids showing off their newfound skills in dog training to reciting every state capital. One year my sisters and I even showed off a model of the Trojan Horse that we had made from papier mache.
It was at one of these showcases I decided to do a reading of a short story I had been working on. Much like reading had been a staple up to that point, writing was also taking hold. Back in the days before iPods and smartphones (geez - dating myself here) we had only cassette tapes and CDs to listen to in the long Californian car rides.
One of my mom's favorites to play was the Gladiator soundtrack. I used to stare out the window, daydream along to the music, and then pop out of the car at home and start writing down the stories I'd imagined in a ratty old notebook that has long since gone to notebook heaven.
So at that showcase, I debuted a short story about 9/11 and the triumph of the human spirit. Slightly ambitious material for a nine-year-old? Maybe, but I figured go big or go home. Some of my friends' grandparents were sitting in the front row and as I read my piece they smiled, nodded, and made a few "Mmm." noises. At that moment, I thought to myself "I want to make more people smile and make happy thoughtful noises." And thus an author was born.
That's when the tough stuff began. If you are a creative mind yourself, you know that it takes a long, long time to produce work you're actually proud of. For a long time, it seems like no matter how hard you try, nothing you produce looks remotely like you want it to. It's frustrating.
If you do nothing else in that time, for the love of all things, do this: find someone who will push you through it. For me, that person was my mom. Not a writer, but an inspiringly creative mind herself, she pushed me to keep writing no matter how frustrated or disappointed I was in my work.
"You're going to dislike your own work for a long time," she told me once during one of our many talks in her sewing room, "but there will come a day when you write something that you feel is heading in the right direction and you can be proud of it." And then we got back to our favorite past-time: goofing off.
My Mom passed away on December 22, 2015, from a head-spinning case of cancer. In the month leading up to her death, I ended up reading aloud to her almost every night from books of fiction that made us both giggle, smile, and make happy thoughtful noises. In the months after we lost her, though, I struggled to write almost anything, and the things I did manage to write were painful and full of grief.
Those feelings were legitimate and necessary, but I didn't want to stay there. I wanted a way back to the smiling and giggling I'd shared with my mom in her final weeks. I prayed time and time again, asking God to help me find my way through, and he showed up in a huge, life-changing way.
To comfort myself in my grief, I turned to all my favorite books: Narnia, The Hobbit, A Wrinkle in Time, and so many others. I realized it was the books intended for children that were still bringing me joy and helping me punch holes in the darkness that surrounded me. As I healed, I found I wanted to do the same thing those books had done for me.
I wanted to punch holes in the darkness for other people who were hurting or would hurt. I wanted to bring the same joy God had given to me to other people through storytelling so they could put the world around them down for a little bit to smile, nod, and make happy thoughtful noises.
Over the next two years, my writing found a home in children's books. I've worked hard to produce my first book, The Fantastic Adventures of Captain Acorn, with the help of family, friends, and amounts of hot chocolate that far exceed a healthy dosage. In a lot of ways, this book is my love letter to joy.
In writing this for kids, I hope to give them a book that can make them smile as they finish each chapter's worth of adventure and give them something to look forward to in the next. It's also for the kid in any adult who needs to put down all the stress and responsibility of grown-up life and disappear in some fiction for a while. We all need a break every now and then.
Is that too much pressure to put on the first book? Probably. Am I sorry? Not a bit. Oh my peeps, whatever it is you're passionate about, do it with abandon. Don't hold back anything. You have no idea how far you might go. I don't! I'm just starting the journey of being a published author and I have no idea what's around the bend, but boy am I excited and I'd love for you to take this journey with me.
So that's who you're dealing with! The girl who started from daydreams in the backseat of a minivan is now an author who can't wait to share her first book with you. If you follow this blog, you can expect a lot more of a certain squirrel and her adventures, insight into the storytelling life, and more of the Jesus Joy that gives my life meaning. I'm so excited to make this journey with you!
Let's find some joy!