Taking Back the Title

In third grade I was a writer. I was busily working on my first novel–a murder mystery loosely based on episodes of Murder She Wrote that I’d watched with my grandfather. In my loopy, third-grader script, I carefully outlined my characters, my setting, the back stories that would convolute the plot. I was shades away from being the next Agatha Christie. Or whoever it was that wrote the Nancy Drew books. The second is more likely since I’d never read any Agatha Christie in the third grade.

In the fourth grade a started a new school and for some strange reason I was placed in the “smart” class. I should serve as a dire waring to the rest of the world as to why not everyone needs to be in the “smart” class. I’m hopelessly scatter-brained–a million time moreso in the fourth grade–and spent a lot of time hating myself for leaving this paper or that at home or forgetting to bring home my text book altogether. There’s very little room for that kind of nonsense in a smart class and it’s hard not to start thinking of yourself as that girl in a class full of over-achievers like the one I was in. My grades were good–I could hang academically–but there’s something about my personality makes me an ill-fit in room full of people who really care whether they get the A- or the A+.

I wasn’t immediately intimidated by the class full of bookish, studious kids–they were fun and nice and I’d never labored under the impression that I was the smartest girl in the world, so it didn’t bother me that they were reading War and Peace (in the fourth grade, y’all) and I was thinking really hard about whether a skirt looked better with two ruffles or three (yes, it was the eighties).

But then the teacher asked me what I liked to do and I said, “write,” of course, because I was in the early stages of writing my Great American Novel. And then the teacher gushed that I should meet Rachel. Rachel was tall and thin and she loved to write too. In fact, she had been writing this summer and wanted to share her piece with the class.

Ahhhhhhh.

As Rachel began to read I realized that there was only going to be room for one writer in that class and that the title was most-certainly taken. Her style was the opposite of mine. A lot like today, I don’t write more than I need to. I’m more Hemmingway than Faulkner (although obviously a helluva lot less edited than either). I get to the point and don’t waste time on words just to astound the reader with my vocabulary. Rachel was a flowery writer. She spoke with a confidence and aura of composure that I literally did not possess. Even now, I think I’m a fine public speaker, but I’m more “entertaining” than “composed.” I once taught an entire class holding my pants together with an alligator clip if that gives you any idea. The teacher obviously adored Rachel and her serene style and I had a pit in my stomach knowing that I was the opposite in every way.

I was out. A writer no more.

Right after Christmas (this Christmas–not the one in fourth grade), I started cutting back on my Facebook time and in its place I started writing. On the Wednesday before Blissdom I finished writing my first book. Sounds fancy, doesn’t it? Well, it’s a children’s book. A mere 18 lines of rhyming verse, but its mine and its finished and I am so incredibly proud of it. I have two more dancing in my head.

There are a million obstacles between this book and publication. Right now it rests in the hands of a friend who will be returning it to me for notes. Another friend is doing a few sketches to accompany it when I send it to a local publisher.

Whether it goes anywhere or not isn’t really the point. The point is that it’s mine. I am a writer.

Next person that tries to take that away from me will have to have to fight me for it.

Colored my hair--the grays were getting me down. Not that I have any grays. Right?

Colored my hair–the grays were getting me down. Not that I have any grays. Right?

 

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Comments

  1. 1. How dare Rachel for forcing you out!

    2. I prefer entertaining speakers over composed any day, having dozed off during a few lectures myself.

    3. Have I mentioned that I love your new hair?

    • 1. I know, right?!?
      2. Thanks. I think entertaining speakers are more popular when you’re an adult. As a kid you just come off as a “class clown.”
      3. Thanks! I’m still adjusting, but it’s fun.

  2. I preordering your book the first chance I get. And, I don’t own any Rachel books. So, there. πŸ˜‰

    • I’d kiss you if you were closer. So it’s probably good that you aren’t :) My first pre-order!!

  3. congrats to you! and rachel, pshaw! bet she hasn’t written a book yet πŸ˜‰

    • Thank you, Amanda! If she has written a book, I haven’t read it, so there. I actually think she’s a college professor or something now days.

  4. Congrats on finishing your book! :) how exciting!!

    PS i LOVE that hair!!!

  5. Cool! Welcome to the children’s book writers club! You’ll find we are much more inclusionary now than in third grade! :) I just finished a manuscript on a book explaining what cerebral palsy is to little kids. I mostly wrote it for my boys, but my critique group liked it and I found an illustrator so it’s on its way! Of course, I’d love for it to be traditionally published… wouldn’t we all? :)

    I’d love to chat about it. PM me on Facebook if you have time.

  6. Way to go! You did it! I bet it’s wonderfully written and fabulously entertaining! Congrats Katy!

  7. Bugladynora says:

    Great for you! I have been thinking similar thoughts about writing. Not about the advanced class. I was in honors in high school, which didn’t seem too stressful. We have gifted in grade school. My 2nd grade son did well on test but not quite enough. His teacher kinda thinks he should be, but I was conflicted about wanting him in it do I let it be. Either way don’t let anyone hold you back!

    • I wasn’t stressed by the smart classes–I just wasn’t a good fit. I was the kind of girl who was always making my teachers sigh and say, “she’s not living up to her potential.” It’s fine, but it takes the focus off of what you’re able to do and puts it on what you’re not doing.

  8. Awesome. Just awesome. I am totally envious. I want to be a writer, too.

  9. Good for you, setting aside time to grab on to your dreams – simply fabulous! Never give up, you never know when things are about to get really good. πŸ˜‰

    • This is true–I’m always surprised at where life takes me most. It’s rarely where I expect.

  10. Go you!!! I keep imagining that someday when my kids are older I will have time to “take back” that title, too. Even if I’m delusional. Props to you for doing it!

    • Any time, chica, any time. I don’t think there’s ever a perfect time, so just grabbing a piece here and there really makes it work.

  11. Good. On. You. I feel good things in the air for you. Excellent.

  12. That’s great!! We are all so proud of you!!

  13. You go, girl! Do what you love, now and forever, now or never.

    Peace,

    Tim

  14. I would love to see a preview of your book!

    • Can’t wait til I’m at a point where I can share some of it with you guys. Still tweaking, but hopefully it will be soon.

  15. I am loving this! Live your dream Katy! I hope what I have is good enough to help you get there! :)

    • I know it is–your work is fantastic. If they don’t see that, then they’re delusional (or something).