It’s hard for me to put a finger on, or express how I feel about this upcoming anthology. I cannot emphasize enough how cool it feels to not only know my work is to appear in print in the near future, but also to see my name listed alongside so many other authors.
On the other side of that coin, though, I wish it were a story more reflective of the body of my work.
“Eeny Meeny Miney Mo: Tales for Tiny Tikes” is an anthology of bedtime stories, so not exactly my comfort zone. A while back at AWR we had a friendly competition where one of the prompts was a children’s story. I wrote a draft for what would eventually become “Tree Rings” for that competition. I remember feeling like it was far outside of my wheelhouse at the time.
I’m never quite sure how to act around children, let alone write for them, but one thing I try not to do is dumb myself down. Sure, conversation tends to veer toward topics they enjoy, but if I’m asked a question I try to give actual, thoughtful feedback; to treat them like adults who just happen to like juvenile things. If they don’t understand my thoughts, I do my best to explain. “If you can’t explain it simply, you don’t understand it well enough.” Right?
Probably the most annoying thing I remember from being a kid were the times where I was treated like a kid; the times I was treated like I didn’t know things, or that my thoughts were invalid, not because they were nonsensical, but because I was younger or the times I had to shout over the din of adults talking in order to be heard. So I try not to do it to them.
Admittedly, I’m generally only around my friends’ kids for short periods of time, so I’m sure such an approach would get tiresome if you had to do it 24/7. But I don’t, so I try, and I’m apparently pretty popular.
In writing “Tree Rings” I tried to keep a similar philosophy in mind; be thoughtful, be clear and concise, but don’t make them feel like children. I remember making a concentrated effort to keep the language simple but not simplistic, and the narrative straightforward, but also make it not-too-juvenile. I wanted it to be a “grown-up” story that a kid could understand and relate to and, in effect; something which elevates the child listening, and maybe brings the adult who’s reading back to childhood a bit. I wanted it to be a story that puts both reader and listener, as the case may be, on an even playing field and maybe even spurs a conversation.
I dunno, maybe that’s putting a little too much weight on these 1,500 words. I suppose that’ll be for you to decide when it finally lands in your hands.