Friday Inspiration: Books I Wrote as a Kid

When I was a kid, there was something called the “Young Authors Conference.” Teachers would get their students to make “books” and the best would go to the conference, which took place in a school gym somewhere with a bunch of other kids and guest authors. I looked forward to this every year because I really wanted to be a writer! And I still have a few of those books…

I think this was my Grade 3 Young Authors book, because it's freakin' laminated! In total it was 10 pages long, double most of my classmates. Even at the age of 8 I was trying to write novels.
I think this was my Grade 3 Young Authors book, because it’s freakin’ laminated! In total it was 9 pages long, double most of my classmates. Even at the age of 8 I was trying to write novels.
This book isn't as pro, so was probably just something I wrote for English class. Who knows. But it had seven chapters and I was clearly gunning for a novel by this point.
This book isn’t as pro, so was probably just something I wrote for English class. Who knows. But it had seven chapters and I was clearly gunning for a novel by this point.
This is a pop-up book! Written when I was in Grade 4. I was late finishing it so my teacher thought she'd teach me a lesson and punish my tardiness by not letting me go to the Young Author's Conference. I protested - again, my book was twice as long as my classmates! Of course it took me longer to finish. She wouldn't budge. Next year I wised up and simply write "To be continued..." when the deadline arrived.
This is a pop-up book! Written when I was in Grade 4. I was late finishing it so my teacher thought she’d teach me a lesson and punish my tardiness by not letting me go to the Young Author’s Conference. I protested – again, my book was twice as long as my classmates! Of course it took me longer to finish. She wouldn’t budge. Next year I wised up and simply write “To be continued…” when the deadline arrived.
I feel like this was Grade 8, but we had a computer by then and this is typed on a typewriter, so maybe it was Grade 7. This story was 25 pages long and ended with my now signature "To be continued..." I wrote about flying on an airplane, traveling to England, and murder - even though I had no experience with any of those things. The writing is has lots of action but a horrific amount of description and "what my character is thinking" crap. Still, my teacher was impressed.
I feel like this was Grade 8, but we had a computer by then and this is typed on a typewriter, so maybe Grade 7? This story was 25 pages long and ended with my signature “To be continued…” I wrote about flying on an airplane, traveling to England, and murder – even though I had no experience doing any of those things. The writing has lots of action but a horrific amount of description and internal monologue. Still, my teacher was impressed enough to write a lovely comment encouraging me to keep at it!

Looking back on these stories, I’m first struck by how ridiculous some of them are, but then I silence my adult critic and see what my teachers probably saw – a highly imaginative kid. I wrote about bubbles swallowing up the world, mysterious abandoned houses, invisible rivers, alien invasions, ant-sized towns, murder, sixth sense and demons. All without ever having been taught how to write a story.

Learning how to write or structure a story wasn’t part of the curriculum when I was in elementary school. It is now (at least in Ontario), but back in the old days the teachers just set us loose with pencils and paper and said, “Write a story!” My adult self often laments this – if I’d learned story structure at a young age, I could have been published by 18! Instead I spent my childhood blissfully writing stories without having a clue what I was doing…

But maybe that was a gift. What comes through in all of these harebrained stories I wrote as a child is how much fun I had creating them. I never worried that the story wasn’t good enough, that my protagonist wasn’t relatable, that my stakes weren’t high, or my ending unsatisfying. I didn’t know about these things. So I just wrote. And I loved every second of it.

I lost that feeling as I got older. The more I learned, the higher my expectations of myself become. That added stress. I had to write the best story ever! Every time! The joy faded and writing began to feel like work, which it is because I’m lucky enough to have a job where I’m paid to write. But I need to remind myself that I do this because I love writing and always have. That’s when I pull out these silly stories, silence my inner critic, and just remember what it was like to write the first fun thing that came into my head. No hesitation, no doubt, no fear. Then I hold on to that feeling and start to write…

 

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Author: Heather Jackson

Heather is a freelance screenwriter, game writer, and novelist based in Toronto. For more, visit her website at heatherjacksonwrites.com or follow her on Twitter @HeatherJacksonW

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