Follow @LindaJNance

Saturday, May 31, 2014

An Adventure In Writing

Summer is here. The day is warm and beautiful outside. It reminds me of last summer and a project that my grandson and I had been working on for some time. Actually most of his little life he loved to work with me making his own little books. When he was so young he just colored pictures he would make up stories to go with them and I would staple them together. As he grew older he had a burning desire to make what he called 'a real book' of his own with his own story. He would look so serious and explain that it is not a real book until you have your picture on the back. I had to laugh and reminded him there was more to a book than the cover or picture on the outside. It is what is inside the cover that makes a book.

That was the beginning of a very big challenge. Zander was 8 years old when we began to seriously begin the task of helping a child that young to do something that was real and he could be proud of creating. There was so much more than just putting his story or idea into words on a page. I wanted him to not only do it but understand and work to make it the best it could be. That part about understanding is more of a challenge than you might think because of his age.

You might not think that legal issues would be one of the first challenges but with a child who loves cartoons and movies we had to have an understanding that he could not use characters belonging to someone else. They story and all involved in it had to be his own ideas and things he did not get from anywhere else.

I think one of the most important aspects of learning is the ability to learn to think. We can memorize many things. We can read and we can listen. We can learn. We also need to think about all of those things. To be able to use the things we learn, to do something we desire to do or accomplish that something special that has alluded us, is bringing learning into a new light of utilization of acquired skills and knowledge. We need to expand from accepting all we hear, to thinking about what we hear and learning from life.
Whenever I read the little book I wrote called The Pumpkin Field, we always end up talking about many things. We discuss thoughts, ideas and it goes on from there. Some tell of the their fears such as the fear of darkness and we see how the story helps us to understand those things. We almost always talk about writing. When they ask me about writing the book I see such excitement and enthusiasm. Zander has always had enthusiasm about writing and it was time to see what we could do.
We reviewed somethings we had already learned and discussed new ideas. We talked about what kind of stories we wanted to write. We talked about characters and also not using other people's ideas and characters. Our story will have to come entirely from our own imagination.
I told him anything worth doing is worth doing well and also worth working as hard as we can. He agreed we will spend this time not only doing a book but learning about books, words and many things we can use to write.
I am not going to go into every detail here but thought about keeping a journal of the study pages, discussions, topics and ideas as we worked became a reality . I wanted a book to help other children learn to write or just have a joy and being able to create with words. In writing this book it is not just theory or what might work or be of interest to learn and use in writing. This is what we did and how we did it together.
As I discussed all of this with him he frowned and mentioned it might be nice to have a book so that other kids could make their books too. “Can you teach them and help them with a book?”
“I guess I could, but it would take a lot of work.” He smiled at me as I smiled in return, thinking of how I might be able to do this project and help him make his book a reality at the same time.
I reviewed some of the vocabulary I wanted him to remember. I asked him if he remembered what a protagonist was. “Sure I do. That’s the one the story is about.”
I then mentioned that the main character would be the protagonist and asked if he remembered how to spell protagonist. He thought for a moment and I could see his little lips move as he silently sounded it out and spelled it perfectly. We did a few other words and definitions including talking about how he could use these things. He asked me why he could just not call them people instead of protagonists. I explained the story might have a main character that was an animal or maybe even an alien. By using the proper term we can more easily understand each other. We lean new things all the time and in school they are always learning new words. Think how limited life would be if we only learned a little and never learned any more. Words can open a whole world and echo through the ages of time. We never know what we can do until we try and then keep trying and learning.
I hope this journal type book and the study pages,discussions, topics and ideas as we go it might be something that could help others too. For all of those who have a love of writing or just enjoy creating something special this is a special time shared with our adventures in writing.

When I worked teaching him new words and the meanings it was a challenge. To memorize would be boring and he would not remember or remain interested. Using the words almost like a game made learning more fun.

I have told much about what we have been doing but I would like to tell a bit more about the author. I want to introduce my co-author Zander Figueroa. Zander is my grandson but he is also an amazing young man of exceptional gifts and character.

Zander was in third grade in school but finds life a learning experience. In books, in conversations, outside or just sharing special time with family and friends he learns, shares and is a delight to all who know him. I do not have to say I am a very proud grandmother but when you read his stories I hope you will enjoy them and share in my enthusiasm for what he and I are doing and plan to continue to do in many books to come. He makes me smile and lights up my life.

Zander loves to write and think up stories but he loves so many other things. Swimming and playing outside will always be one of the things he loves.

We live in a rural area so when he is here visiting we have fun inside and out. With large trees in the yard and limbs that fall a bonfire in not only fun but clears and cleans the yard. A few hotdogs and it is fun for all. There is also wooded area around us with wild life. He has been told he can never go into the woods alone. He has gone with his Papaw and seen many animals and they even take some pictures of them. We often get ideas to write from things that we know. His story is about two young children who were not allowed to go into the woods alone but did not listen. They did not think it would hurt just that one time. He can describe the woods and what it looks like from memory of the times he and Papaw explored learning about many things found in nature at the same time.

Zander loves to fish with his grandfather. He is even learning how to cook deep fried catfish and when they are done to perfection.

He calls him his Papaw and I am his Mamaw. My parents, his great grandparents were the ones he called grandma and grandpa. That has made a challenge online. People know who the grandparents are but Mamaw and Papaw are something he has always used between him and us. He is learning many things about more than the writing. He has his own fan page now and twitter account. When he talked about writing with me, his grandmother he frowned. Not long ago he decided he could no longer do that because I was his Mamaw and that is what he will start calling me online too. I told him it might be confusing to others who did not know us but he wants to be real and he said eventually they will understand or not … but I am Mamaw and he is Papaw and that is the way it is.

I like that he is real. We had a lot of concerns about his age and being online but have worked it out pretty well. He is never online without one of us with him. He got excited as he saw more followers and the people would talk to him through messages and tweets. One day he leaned back and told me he did not think he wanted to do it anymore. I told him that was fine but wondered why the change in his attitude.

He rolled his eyes and told me it was because “They are not real. They are not real people. They are just on the computer.” He loves his games. The games can look so real but they are just games. In some odd way I think he related those things and had decided that the people leaving messages and tweets were not real. It was like a game.
I do not want to frighten him but explained that they were real people. We have been so lucky and almost everyone has been so wonderful, supportive and encouraging.....almost. I always go online first and look to see who followed or is following and read the messages before he gets online. There was one individual I promptly reported. The man sent a message saying if he wanted to learn and see some really cool things all he had to do was click on the link and he could even help him get condoms. I did not click on the link but pretended to be Zander and told him I did not know what a condom was. The man quickly responded that he could teach all kind of new and fun things. I asked if he knew that I was only 8 years old and he said he did but we can never be too young to learn new things and have a little fun. I not only reported but also took screen shots of him and the urls.

I never told Zander about that warped individual but did explain that when we talk online we are talking to real people. Some of his followers are those in my writers group and he knows them. Donna Watkins always makes cakes, pies or something special when we visit. He thinks the world of Carol Dabney and so many others. There are also those I may have never met in person but think of as my friends from online and he knows about them too.

A terrified look came on his young face when he said, “Well there is no way I can do this. When I am on twitter or my fan page those are real people?”

I assured him that they were and wasn't it nice to hear from them and get to know them?

“Oh Mamaw..... I am not allowed to talk to strangers. My mom says to never talk to strangers.”

Now that was a problem I don't think too many authors have to deal with especially when we think of ways to promote our books. I could not tell him that it was alright now to talk to strangers. I thought about the one that I had reported and that as a child they do not differentiate with the books and life. You can or can not talk to strangers........

His mom, Papaw and I talked together and came up with a solution. We explained that he will not be talking to strangers since we are always with him. He will be talking with us to others.

We did a local author fair and he was priceless. I was so proud as he sat beside me and did his best to look professional with all of the other authors. When a time came that we each introduced ourselves and told somethings about our books or things that we write he looked horrified. I felt sorry for him but quickly stood and introduced us both. A look of pure relief came across his small face.

Lat year I was invited to the local school to speak about writing and the books to the 4th and 5th grade classes. Zander was invited to go with me and tell about his book we were working on. As the time neared he became more and more nervous. When we walked in I swear he looked like he might actually faint. He had explained that they were the older kids. He was only in third grade.

His Papaw was with us and has been very supportive in all of this and Zander leaned a little closer to him as I began to talk to the children. I just love their interest and enthusiasm. When I explained about the project Zander was doing and that I was going to write a book telling about it all to help others with what they might decide to do, the interest and excitement became so intense the teacher had to quiet them down. Their questions flooded out to Zander asking all about his story, book and how he was doing it. Many told that they too wanted to write books.

When you talk about our books or writing, all of the fear of speaking to the group evaporated. A smile came across his face and he was right out in the middle of them telling and showing the books and all about it.

Those were times I cherish and am so proud of him. Those times and so many more make me smile. We share many things in life. We share the love of writing, family, friends and every day as something special. I hope that This book will be something others not only enjoy but might be helpful in their own special projects of learning and creating.

When we finished writing the book we had to find a cover for it.The day that I was invited to read and talk to his own class at school he stood proudly beside me.  He had told them all that he was going to write his own books too and books with me.  When he put his little arm around me it was a special moment and his teacher took the picture for us.  I knew that would be the cover.

The day the proof arrived I think we both almost had tears in our eyes. For a moment he was totally silent and then the smile and excitement kicked in. Papaw had the camera ready and it was another of those special moments,

This is a unique book written as a journal, workbook, guide in writing, and preview of work as it progresses from the two authors, Linda Nance and Zander Figueroa. We are attempting to create books that the readers may find interesting to read and excited to share in the creative process during the actual writing and collaborative efforts between both of us.
This book will share insights to the writers and the stories. Learning and working together we have only just begun.

I know I have been slow at getting the things done I have in mind to do and share. I caught a summer cold and that may not sound severe but it can sure slow a person down. Some days are better than others but I still think that every day is special. I had planned to share not only about the books I have been writing but also about life as I do. I have tried to share honestly and am happy to say it has been an adventure. I have met so many wonderful people along the way and want to wish you all.....all the very best. I will be back soon.

1 comment:

  1. Congratulations! A beautiful story. For those who would like their child to write a book and publish it in digital format , there is also the option to do so on where it is easy to create an illustrated book like this one for example