Monthly Archives: August 2008

A trip down literary lane

When you read a book as a child, it becomes a part of your identity in a way that no other reading in your whole life does.
– Meg Ryan as Kathleen Kelly in You’ve Got Mail

Nursery rhymes. The most recent Poem Off topic got me reminiscing about things I heard and read as a kiddo. I think there ‘s a lot of truth to the quote above, don’t you? Whether you read a little or a lot as a child, it tends to stick with you. With that in mind, come with me on this memory lane jaunt, revisiting some of my early influences–just a small sampling. Maybe it’ll jog your memory too.

I’ve always loved reading. I guess I came by that naturally: both of my parents love to read, and my mom is a retired librarian. When I was very young, most nights my dad would read me a book that he let me pick out. I loved those times. One book in particular got chosen a lot. Horton Hatches the Egg was a Christmas gift from a neighbor. I can still hear the promise Horton repeated time after time: “I meant what I said and I said what I meant. An elephant’s faithful one hundred percent!” It’s a great book. I mean, how can you go wrong with Dr. Seuss? …And a flying elephant-bird, for goodness’ sake?

The Bible also captured my imagination. Sunday school each week was filled with incredible stories! The older I get the more convinced I am that God is the master storyteller. …A boy killing a giant with a slingshot, a talking donkey, a short, little man who climbs a tree to see Jesus, a city’s wall falling after only marching and shouting, a man falling out of a window and dying (and coming back to life!) because he fell asleep, walking on water… who else could make up this stuff? And it’s all true! Genius, to understate the obvious.

Poetry. Not everyone associates little kids and classic poetry recitation. Mrs. Ables, my second grade teacher sure did, and it scared the jeepers out of me. We had to choose between two poems, memorize it, and recite it in front of class. Despite being the bold tomboy that I was back then, that thought made me nervous. Mrs. Ables encouraged us by reciting a poem her teacher made her memorize in second grade. My eyes got big. I didn’t know that someone “old” like her could remember that far back. (Oh, how perspectives change!) I chose Robert Lewis Stevenson’s “The Swing,” and even survived reciting it for my class.

How do you like to go up in a swing,
Up in the air so blue?

Oh, I do think it the pleasantest thing

Ever a child can do!

Up in the air and over the wall,

Till I can see so wide,
River and trees and cattle and all
Over the countryside–

Till I look down on the garden green,

Down on the roof so brown–

Up in the air I go flying again,

Up in the air and down!

Ramona Quimby was another one of my literary buddies. I loved Beverly Cleary’s books about this little girl around my age, and by coincidence we even had the same awful haircut. It made me feel a little better about that. I saw a lot of myself in her and her family, and it was plain fun following her escapades.

I’ve already had a request for a post about literary influences as an adult. That will come later. For now, I’d love to know what stories you remember from your childhood.

Rhyme and Reason

Happy Thursday to all…

Don’t forget to enter the latest Poem Off over at Travis W. Inman’s blog. This should be a really fun one. I have no idea what my finished product will be like, but it’s starting to churn in my head. Entries are due by this Sunday night.

Switching gears, I have a little update for you. Some of you ask me from time to time how my writing is going. I had a couple of developments last week. First, I found out that another member of the writers’ group I’ve been attending decided to help me along in my writing pursuits. =) This is a dear, older gentleman who always has a twinkle in his eye and something up his sleeve. From our group time he had a copy of a couple of my poems–one I had actually labored over, and one I threw together for a group assignment. My phone rings a couple of weeks later, and it’s a writing professor who helps publish a local, periodic, literary gazette. Apparently the gentleman took it upon himself to submit my poems for me. They’re being considered for inclusion in the publication, and the professor said they’ll most likely be in there. She realized that I didn’t know they were submitted and called to get my permission. Not to take anything away from the other writers, but while it’s a compliment, this isn’t like winning Poet Laureate status. Still, it’s nice to hopefully be included. Now I need to be extra careful what I bring to the group!

Update Number Two: I registered for the Glorieta Christian Writers’ Conference in October. I’m very, very excited (grinning as I write this)! Three hundred-plus attendees and lots of professional writers, editors, and agents will be there. I’ve been thinking and praying about this for months–David, too. I’ve been torn partly because that’s the same time as Reality Weekend, one of the biggest events for our youth group each year. Isn’t it often a challenge to struggle with multiple priorities and callings on your life? I felt guilty for even considering “skipping out” on our teenagers, and had about decided not to go to the conference. But after more prayer and talking with David, we decided together that God wants me to go. David is so supportive, which is invaluable to me.

While there I’m hoping ta lurn how ta write bettur, maybe meet some new friends, and learn more about the business, which is fascinating to me. It’s still hard for me sometimes to tell people that God has called me to write, especially since I don’t know what direction He wants me to take. But I do know that He wants me to make tracks to Glorieta…and I can’t wait to go.