Sunday, September 19, 2021

Tying the Strings Together: Childhood to Adult Writer

As a writer, I often spend a small (okay, large) amount of time staring at a blank page, waiting to see what strings of narrative I’ll next pull out of thin air, or, more likely, from my own depths. One of those depths is early childhood. 


Childhood was both an idyllic and challenging time for me. I lived with my parents and sister and many cats and dogs and varying farm animals on more than 120 wooded Wisconsin acres. In summer, I hardly ever wore shoes or came into the house unless I (or the dog) was hungry. Winters were spent making snow forts and watching my sister ice skate on the frozen over ponds. Fall was magical, with its colors of crimson and gold and rust. I was content in my isolated world.

School, however, was breathtakingly difficult for me. I was painfully shy, awkward and reserved. My sister was outgoing and charismatic. If not for her holding my hand to my first few days of elementary school, I think I would have wandered out into traffic. 

Speaking in front of everyone was nearly impossible. I refused to eat or drink anything, and I often simply would not perform my assignments. My kindergarten teacher corrected my method of holding a pencil and demonstrated that which I was to change to. I refused, and to this day, hold a pencil wrong (boy, did I show her). It was hard to make friends and I found it easier to stick to myself. It wasn’t until upper elementary I started to find my footing and most importantly, my voice. I lacked confidence, but felt stronger as I was introduced more and more to the arts of drawing, painting and writing. I also met some very influential teachers that helped me gain confidence to pursue those arts. 

I still have a hard time speaking and eating in front of people. It's hard to share my writing with others, whether an email or a short story or a blog or a book. There are threads of me that still go deep into those childhood roots. The important thing is that I managed to live to tell the tale. I can look back now and empathize with childhood me. Those experiences - from a bully on the playground, to snubbing cookies, and making my first best friend and find the courage to rent library books on my own - have all shaped me and also my writing. 

I hope in my middle grade writing, its young readers can see the awkwardness of finding your way growing up. Making mistakes, but fixing them as best one can, walking into unknown situations, taking risks writing stories or making art. I think somewhere inside, we are all still at least a fragment of our childhood selves. There’s no better well than one’s own to connect with readers. 

Happy Reading! 
AM Bostwick

1 comment:

  1. I had so many similar experiences--including the pencil! I don't hold it differently, but my teachers kept getting after me for not slanting my cursive...until I just did what was comfortable and wrote straight up and down, no slant.

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