>three cheers for chapter books

>I remember when I tried to write my first book. I was five. I took a handful of printer paper from a stack in my dad’s office, tore the hole punched edges off (remember doing that!?) and folded the pile in half. I drew a picture on the front page and then proceeded to write lines of cursive on each of the following pages. Except that it wasn’t cursive because I didn’t know how to handwrite yet. Instead it was just line after line of curvy swooshes. I proudly presented the book to my mum and insisted that I was going to be a great author one day. She was unimpressed, I think, by the waste of paper and I remember her being distinctly disinterested in my talents. Not in a mean way, just in a have-three-kids-live-in-a-crap-small-northern-town kinda way.

When I was 12, I again tried to write a book. I titled a page “Chapter One” and then set about concocting a brilliant story. I lasted a few pages but couldn’t seem to get out of the Shire, so to speak. I was very much into the scenery but most unsatisfied with the dialogue. I felt limited by my vocabulary and life experience. And frustrated because I had so much to say but no way to say it. I gave up and decided to focus on math instead. A terrible idea, in the end.

I spent most of my teens writing uneventful short stories and terrible poetry. This actually might account for why I hate poetry so much now. At 18, my first real effort to write the next great Canadian novel began; it continues to this day. I have been picking at the same idea, the same word file, for 12 years. I’ve saved it on disks, both floppy and compact, emailed it to myself, and printed out portions for safe keeping. I’ve started, deleted, and started again at least a thousand times. I’ve deleted characters in fits of rage and cancelled plot lines when they struck too close to home. I’ve made the mistake of writing large segments while deeply depressed or deliriously happy, only to revise (read: destroy) these segments weeks later. I hate this book. I love this book.

I need to finish this book.

So that’s part of the plan, I think. In addition to the swathes of essays that I’m writing about nothing – essays that will some day magically turn into rejection letters – and the daily-ish blogging, I’m going to set about finishing this twisted tale that has haunted me since I left home. Exciting…

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3 thoughts on “>three cheers for chapter books

  1. >I found the first book I wrote in a box recently. It's a kids book about a monster that lives under a bed. And you know what? It's pretty damn good. Properly illustrated, it would make a good read for a kid. There's a bit where the monster scares the mum and she throws a pan of bacon and eggs in the air that I think would work particularly well in picture. My illustration was not so good. So you get your novel finished and I will work on finding someone to publish my kids books.

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