This Is How It Begins: The Budding Writer
We were walking in the woods one morning, having inspected the pond for insects and the river for currents. The air was cool for August, but the sun shone through the trees splashing patterns on the path. There was magic in the air. “Grandma, I looked you up on my mom’s phone,” said Wyatt, my beautiful and brilliant seven-year-old grandson. “You mean, you Googled me?” I asked. “Yeah, I found a picture of you and a picture of your book,” Wyatt said, grinning at me with pride, which I think was directed more at his research skills than that his grandmother had written a book. Still, I was honored and touched. He climbed up on a huge rock, posing for a photo with me his grandfather took, and ran ahead into the forest. The sight of his blonde head, lean tall young body, jumping over limbs made my heart sing. “I have a story, too,” he said, called back as he forged ahead. “Tell us about it,” I said. And he did. The tale began with three children in the middle of one night when they awoke to join in an adventure that began with them entering a portal on an urgent rescue mission. “Wow, that’s a great hook,” I said, explaining to him what a hook was and how important it is to excite your reader right from the start. He nodded and went on to tell a tale with twists and turns, spirals and arcs, characters that included Dr. Seuss and his dog, as we listened, spellbound by a seven-year-old whose imagination was unfolding before us in the forest. I asked an occasional question, but I hesitated to interrupt the miracle we were witnessing. Wyatt answered patiently, moving on to the next scene in his story, clearly pleased by my interest. There was a finale, which Wyatt revealed just as we returned to the same pond where we had begun our walk. The climax was both happy and satisfying. Pleased with himself and our admiration for his talent, Wyatt told us he had lots of stories to tell. Is this how it begins? The budding of a writer. A child born to be a storyteller. We encouraged Wyatt to try to put his stories on paper or to dictate it into one of the many devices children his age consider to be natural appendages. We explained, stories are gifts to be shared. I wondered. Do all children have stories inside of them or are some just born to tell tales, while others to make music or paint or sculpt? Where do these talents go, if not nurtured? Do we suffocate our children with busyness and activities we think they should be doing and ignore what they naturally and instinctively hold within themselves? A seed sits in every child, waiting to be planted, watered, and grown. If ignored, the plant wilts and goes to seed. Decades later, the adult wonders what is lying dormant in the empty cave within him. With a little luck and a lot of tenacity, the adult may rediscover the gift that was his to give from the beginning. Let’s honor the artists in our children. Let there be writers, sculptors, painters, singers, musicians, and artists of all kinds, nurtured from seed. For this to happen, all we have to do is listen and love.