Today, our Guest Blogger,Ginger Kenney–a writer herself–discusses the joys and wonders of raising a writer.
Raising A Writer
I didn’t set out to raise a writer. Who would? Any responsible parent would want her child to be in a field where he could make a living, right? A doctor, maybe. Or a lawyer. Well, no, not a lawyer. A computer scientist, maybe.
Actually, I didn’t set out to place my children on any particular vocational or avocational path. I just wanted to raise good human beings who would have the opportunity to develop whatever passions and talents they had been given.
But on the other hand, I’ve always made up stories, even just for myself, even as a child. Long before I discovered that I could write my stories down, I began inventing stories for my son.
When Adam was two years old, I took him to the Kimbell Art Museum in Ft. Worth, Texas.
(A small digression is in order here. Texans like to boast that they have the biggest and best of just about everything, and often enough, this is true. But the Kimbell isn’t like that. The Kimbell is the smallest and best museum I have ever visited. Its permanent collection comprises only about 300 works of art—one or two absolutely topnotch representatives of just about everything. Oh, and it’s also a great building. Go there. It’s worth a journey.)
Now how, one might ask, does one tour an art collection whose every item is worth looking at carefully, with a hyperactive two-year-old in tow? The answer is: it’s easy! Every picture tells a story—and this was Adam’s afternoon of story after story, all illustrated by the world’s greatest art masters.
Adam is now in his twenties and doesn’t remember the Kimbell. But when he was a senior at Brown, he created a capstone project called “The Museum”. It’s a hypertext fiction about a group of people who visit a museum, where every object they look at has its own story. Coincidence? You tell me.
When he was three or four, we went on a road trip to Prince Edward Island. At our hotel’s elegant dining room overlooking the ocean, there was only one way to keep an active young child still while we ate. I told stories, his favorite kind of stories, those where he could choose what happens next. And later had to explain to the couple sitting at the next table that, no, I was not an author. I had still never written a word. Little did I suspect.
At about that time, Adam started inventing “Tell You Where You Are” games for his friends. His best friends were the ones that would sit with him for hours while he invented stories for them to experience, stories that evolved in response to their choices. In college and beyond, Adam has explored his interest in interactive fiction in a number of school and extracurricular projects. (To see some of them, follow this link and click on “Works”.)
I started writing my stories down when a combination of a laptop computer and a job involving considerable travel landed me in too many hotel rooms too much of the time. When it came down to a choice between the stories on the television and the stories in my head, there was no contest. Particularly since by that time I had two young children who could enjoy the stories in my head when I came home again.
During the years from when Adam was nine until he was fourteen (and Margot was four to nine), I wrote about a dozen novellas, all somewhere in the domain of fantasy-scifi-speculative fiction. As audience and critics, my children helped me polish these works, sitting together at the kitchen table night after night, working on both ideas and wording. (And no, I never tried to publish them. Back then, that wasn’t the point.)
Both insightful and funny, Adam is still one of my best critics.
And he is submitting his short stories to some of the same magazines I am. I’m not taking any bets on which of us gets published first.
Thanks so much, Ginger!
Also, visit Danielle Ackley-McPhail’s blog for more insights on writing!