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Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Conundrums of a Pre-Teen Writer

Age ten is a tumultuous transitional period between elementary fundamentals and middle school regimented work across the spectrum of classes. Pre-teen me was none too happy to discover the workload increasing and my enjoyment in school decreasing. Everything revolved around homework and projects in addition to being introduced to the semi-real world of teenagehood.
One ordinary day in the pastel classroom, wallpapered with artwork and timetables, my teacher assigned to us a short story that would be read in front of the kindergartners. At first this mundane event did not remotely catch my attention. Little did I know, this landmark day gave my creative, proverbial ball another great kick.
While other children were still thinking up ideas, I had started my first outline. While the others fashioned a single sentence, I was three pages in. While my class went to recess, I stayed to write. I had found my calling! Not long into the project, I was instructed that the story only needed a few sentences per page. Ten of them in total. I had ten pages, all right. Ten full pages.
What was I to do? I had barely begun to know my story’s lion family (The Lion King was my favorite movie…ok, it still is), and now I was being asked to cut apart their tale? This not only expanded my experience in writing, but it introduced me to editing. The final sprint to the “finished” line.  More like sprinting on a treadmill. I sat in my cozy desk learning the fine art of being concise. I had to choose what was most important. And I thought it was difficult then, ha.   
I was none too pleased with reducing my wonderful story to a few meager statements, but this lesson played a decent part in preparing me for the continuous road of editing to come. Finally, I presented my story to the kindergartners as planned, but what was not planned was me going off script. My lion tale was written and all I needed to do was read. But I was a budding story teller and my story needed to be told! I recited the story, from memory, to the bright faces of the young students. And although to this day I couldn’t tell you what my narrative was about (beyond lions), I do remember how happy the kids were to hear a good story.

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