Wednesday, January 04, 2006

Why I Write -- Eve

I hated reading as a child. There, I said it.

I don’t regularly admit this to anyone, but admission is the first step to recovery. And believe it or not, my objection to reading made me who I am today…an aspiring children’s book writer. We prefer the term “Pre-Published” to unpublished, as we know that it is just a matter of time.

The problem was not that I detested books or stories. Quite the opposite. In fact, I loved having stories read to me. I loved looking at books, touching, feeling, studying the pictures, making up my own stories. My problem? I was an incredibly SLOW reader and, as a result, had very low comprehension. It’s awfully embarrassing to watch the star reading group, “The Bullfrogs”, read LITTLE HOUSE ON THE PRAIRIE in first grade, while I’m in the “Plankton” reading group flipping through ABC books. Okay, we weren’t actually called the “Plankton” group, but you get the picture.

I spent a lot of free time as a young kid writing and illustrating my own books, sitting at my little orange toy box that I had set up as a desk. Why? Because I loved stories, but was bored out of my mind with the books I was given. It was rare to find a book at my reading level that interested me. My poor parents had to sit through twelve thousand readings of THE STUPIDS STEP OUT (By Harry Allard and James Marshall) because it is the only book I checked out on ‘Library Fridays’ for an entire year!

Humor…humor I tell you, is what I craved! Good, funny stories that weren’t too complicated, but not dumbed-down either. And they were rare. Slow, dull, not kid-friendly drivel is what they fed us through elementary school. I considered dropping out of the 5th Grade when we had to read five chapters of JOHNNY TREMAIN each night. It’s true!

As a recovering “slow reader”, I spent my adult years trying to prove my intelligence to the world. After all, I wasn’t stupid, just “different” and “slow” compared to my fellow students…Of course, all I heard was “DUMB”. I worked my tail off in high school, went to UCLA and then on to medical school…because the smartest people in the world become doctors, right? Okay, passed my medical boards…great, I proved I’m smart, but I hated my work.

What I really wanted was to help those “High-Low” children like me…you know, high interest/low ability (that’s what they call them now). So I became a first grade teacher in an impoverished rural New England school. Initially, I wrote stories for my students out of need. We had a very limited reading library for beginning readers, and zero budget for new books. While writing everything from alphabet books to chapter books, I fell in love with writing again. What my students especially appreciated was creating humorous stories together.

On hiatus now from teaching to write full-time, I have found my niche and “my people”. Children’s book writers are the happiest, most generous, open minded and fun people in the world. I am honored to be among them.

My goal is to write wildly entertaining, funny, kid-friendly books with Newbery-worthy prose. But the road to publication isn’t easy. It’s kind of like a churro…long and bumpy, but sweet. And though I love the process, it can be frustrating…which is what this Blog is all about. Thanks to my writing buddies, Jay and Robin, for being the “sweet” part of my churro!

- EVE

5 comments:

Anonymous said...

Eve, I love churros and the term "Pre-Published." I have to agree with you about children's book writers being the most generous group of people. Hang in there--you have an audience needing what you have to write. And teachers will adore you!

Jessica

www.jessicaleeanderson.com

Anonymous said...

I thoroughly enjoyed reading about your professional journey. As a teacher of children's literature in my early years, reading about your journey reminded my of several students I taught who read at a slow pace; however, were extremely smart.I hope they had the determination and self confidence you had to find their niche. Good luck as you continue to unfold your many talents.
carolyn

Anonymous said...

Thank you to Carolyn and Jessica for the encouraging comments! The best part of this whole journey for me has been the friendships I have cultivated and the support of fellow writers. Thanks so much for reading what we have to say...ROCK ON Children's Book Writers!
-Eve

Laura said...

Eve,

Thanks for sending the link to your blog to our writer's group. What a great story:) I had no idea you went to medical school. You truly are amazing, as is your writing. I loved the story I read in Val's class. You rock. Keep up the great blog! I love the friendships I've made through my writing and enjoy the churro process as much as you do!

:)Laura

PS. I have a blog too. It's about a lot of things. Writing and life and has some of my published clips too.
http://www.livejournal.com/users/laurasmagicday/

Anonymous said...

Churro? You ain't no side of beans.

Lamy