How I Became a Kid Writer
by Donny Bailey Seagraves
- I read books. Lots of books. Many more than my teachers told me to read. I didn’t wait for my teacher or my mother or my best friend to tell me to read a particular book. I just read it. My favorite childhood book was The Wizard of Oz by L. Frank Baum. I still have that book and it’s still one of my favorites.
- I loved the Athens Regional Library. I went there every week and spent a lot of time there. I explored the books and learned which authors I liked and which authors were writing for other kids. Every summer I joined the book club and read all summer long so I’d be ready for school in the fall.
- I wrote. Even way back in elementary school, I imitated the writers I read and admired. The poems of Robert Louis Stevenson inspired me to start writing poetry. I began with simple poems and then moved on to short stories.
- I listened when my teachers encouraged me. My fifth grade teacher, Mrs. Doster, said I wrote good poems and I believed her.
- I didn’t worry about what other kids said. Instead, I sat on the school steps during recess writing poems while they dangled from the monkey bars. The louder they shouted at me and each other, the more I wrote. I also hung on the monkey bars every now and then and played kickball and softball and hopscotch, so I’d have plenty of things to write about.
- I observed the world around me, paying attention to the details I found interesting like the trees and the persimmon tree in my back yard and the neighbors. Many of those things I observed way back during my childhood still find a place in my fiction today.
- I developed a good imagination and I used it. Even as a kid, I asked myself this question, “What if?” Those words are the best story starter I know, for writers of all ages.
- I cultivated a good memory for certain things, like how it felt to be a kid. I still remember that feeling and use it in my writing.
- I won the typewriter instead of the bike in the Fife Drugstore “Best Girl Contest.” Then I took my new aqua portable typewriter home and wrote a story. Then another, and so on until I eventually wrote entire books. If I had won the coveted bike instead, who knows if I would have become a writer?
- I believed in myself and tuned out anyone who told me I couldn’t be a writer, even my parents! If you believe in yourself, you have unlimited opportunity!