But . . . writers write. Right?

This morning, my daughter’s teacher e-mailed us to say that Janie is one of the few second-grade students invited to participate in young writers’ conference tomorrow at the local university.

I’m proud, envious . . .and a tad surprised.

Proud because, hey, that’s our kid getting the chance to do this special thing. We know she’s creative and funny and vocabularied like whoa, but it’s always nice to have outside confirmation.

I’m envious because I wanna go, too. All those energetic, unlimited, uncensored imaginations in one place? What a rush!

But I’ll cop to some honest bafflement.

Yes, Janie is the Undisputed Champion of What If (eight-year old diva division) and tells amazing—and sometimes neverending—stories.* Yes, she can effortlessly convince kids of all ages** to act in her recess plays, which generally involve some combination of fairies, dragons, spies, and aliens and for which she is the screenwriter, line-feeder, director, and star. And yes, she makes up little songs, jokes, and poems all the time.

But it never occurred to me to call her a writer, for the simple reason that all the writers I know like to put words down on paper, computer screens,  envelopes, or any manner of etcetera, with anything that will make a mark or leave a pixel.

As far as I know, Janie doesn’t.  At all.

It’s a struggle to get her to write three complete, comprehensive sentences describing elements of an assigned story that she clearly understood and enjoyed.  I know that’s homework and foot-dragging is de rigueur, but still.   She’ll illustrate stories, but she’s reluctant to write them, even when I offer my coveted laptop.

She’ll make the effort for Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, and birthdays but otherwise, it’s “Meh. I’ll remember it, Mom.”

So if I want to pass along her songs, poems, and stories—or remember them myself—I’m the one who has to transcribe them. I’m all for oral traditions in storytelling, but I can’t follow her around all the time and threatening to do so hasn’t worked.

Maybe the conference is meant to encourage young writers’ to actually, you know, write?

I hope so—I don’t want to wait thirty-odd years for her to finish her first novel.

Or, heaven help me, have to transcribe the whole thing down myself.

*Especially when she’s in trouble.

**She’s apparently the pied-piper of the Kindergarten crowd.  She also managed to get the worst girl-hating chauvenist in the third grade to play fairies with her little band for a week. When I asked her how on earth she managed that (his mother wanted to know, too), Janie shrugged and said, “We needed a bad guy, so I told him that trolls kill and eat fairies for lunch.”  Oh, right.  How did I miss that one?


14 thoughts on “But . . . writers write. Right?

  1. What a spirit your little girl has! Maybe her brain works faster than her hand. I wonder if you taught her to touch type whether that would make any difference. A friend of mine bought her kid a manual electric typewriter and was shocked at the stories he’s now producing. There’s something magical about the sound of tapping.

    Congratulations to your sweet, imaginative and full of piss and vinegar little angel. Tell her I’m jealous, too!

  2. They do have WAY better memories than us. My daughter remembers the stories I tell her way better than I do.

    Maybe she could say them into a tape recorder? Do tape recorders still exist?

  3. Sweet little genius. I’m with MSB on this one. Even with a wide vocabulary, grammar and spell check, what’s on my page can’t compare to what’s in my head. She’s got to grow into her stories, that’s all.

  4. That is so fantastic!

    You know, I was wondering about two things. One, is it possible she has some sort of reading/writing disability? Dyslexia springs to mind but there are so many variations. It just reminded me of a friend whose memory compensated for her inability to see words on a page in their proper order.
    Two, being that we’re all writers, maybe we’re thinking too writer-centric? You’re last comment says it all, the premiere of her first movie. Maybe she is more visual, movies, cameras, the sounds, the words but only as they can move forward the play, you know?

    Anyway you slice it, it’s so exciting for her. I only mentioned the first bit because of that friend I have. And you know, just in case.

    • Don’t worry, I’m not offended or anything — I wondered the same thing last year, but her teachers reassured me and things are settling down. She does have problems with fives and threes (as her mother did before her), but that’s the only reversal she still has, and none of her words are reversed or scrambled. She does need to use her finger to follow lines and unknown words, but her teachers and I both think she just needs to slow down a little. You can tell exactly when she gets bored with an assignment and decides to finish it quickly — her handwriting gets larger, her spelling goes phonetic, and she guesses heavily from context when she reads.

      You may have it — she’s just more performance-based than I am. She certainly didn’t inherit any of my stage fright! 🙂

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