Children’s book writers are always thinking about words as a way to tell a story. But words can also record memories for future generations and if we are honest and true, they capture the emotions felt in those brief moments of life. That authenticity is what moves us, and makes for a great read. Writing what you know, what you have lived, makes a lot of sense. It’s a great place from which an aspiring author can launch an inspiring career.
As a child, my favorite stories were the ones in which I could escape by envisioning myself in the lead role. Pippi Longstocking was like my alter ego. She was always on the ready with a smart response and a sun-shiny approach. Her glass was always half-full, no matter what her predicament. She spoke to me in a way that my mother could never understand, and I loved her for it!
I remember imagining the author, Astrid Lindgren, to be a bit like Pippi herself, plunking out her childhood memoirs at an old typewriter, while sipping a strawberry milk shake in her striped leotards. Oh Pippi, how I miss you!
While contemplating the personality of my own main character, I wonder how much of myself I’ll need to reveal in order to make her authentic. Can I safely maneuver through the elaborately exaggerated waters of childhood memory? Only time will tell.
I’ve been writing my main character with an inner strength I wish I’d had, surrounded by people I wish I’d known. But now I’m beginning to think that maybe, just maybe, I’m going about it all wrong. Perhaps I should surround her with the people who flood my memories and made me who I’ve become. Those people were characters indeed! Maybe then my readers will picture me to be a bit like her, tapping away at the keyboard, sipping on a root beer float, in flamingo print pajamas and fuzzy purple slippers.