Jumpstarted by Youth
This is not a post about Millennials or Generation Z. When I refer to “Youth” in the title, I am referring to someone under the age of 10.
Well, under 9. My granddaughter Ramona, the youth in question, is just coming up on eight and a half years old.
So, jumpstarted by youth. I could say “inspired,” but “jumpstarted” is more accurate. I recently had my car battery replaced; my husband had to jumpstart me on two different occasions leading up to that, so the sound of turning the ignition key and hearing the power surge to turn over the engine is fresh in my mind.
Ramona is my oldest grandchild. I often call her Ramona the amazing. After months of irregular video chats, complicated by busy schedules, online schooling, activities, family matters, and time zone differences, to name a few factors, she and I now chat online on Wednesdays in the late morning (her time zone) as Wednesday is the weekday her online school classes are the shortest. As has always been the case with Ramona since she learned to talk, she hits the conversational ground running and we never know where our talks will lead.
Two weeks ago, we started off talking books. Ramona reads a lot of fantasy, especially if it features dragons. She is enthralled with the Wings of Fire series and sometimes we explore tangential threads to that series, including dragonflies of the genus Pantala, also known as rainpool gliders, which Ramona immediately connected to the Rainwings in the series and drew comparisons between the characteristics of the dragonfly (as I read them aloud to her) and the dragons.
She then segued to a “chapter book” she is writing. She wanted to read some of it to me, but it was packed away in preparation for her family moving into their first house. In lieu of her reading, she ran through a list of the characters and what role they play in the book.
I then shared with her that I was writing a novel, but I had not worked on it in months (well, years).
Ramona bounced straight up. “What? You’re writing a book? What is it about?” I told her it was a novel about her completing a quest with the help of her Auntie Jenna and her little brother. She beamed when I said it was about her. “Read some of it to me,” she demanded.
Well, what could I do with a command request like that? I got my manuscript (which is always, always setting “almost” out, just never touched) and told her I would read her the prologue, after asking her if she knew what a prologue was. Polite eye roll. Yes, she was very familiar with prologues (and accurately explained to me what a prologue is) as well as epilogues (again, a spot on description) adding, patiently but somewhat patronizingly, “I know all the logues.”
Okay. I read the prologue to her.
There was a split second of silence, then an outburst. “That’s good! Read more.”
I read the first chapter, with Ramona asking questions about certain sentences. She emphasized again that she really, really liked it. That was when I confessed to her that I haven’t finished it and haven’t been working on it.
Ramona cut me no slack.
“You need to finish it.”
After we finished talking, I told Warren about reading some of the novel (which he has not read) to Ramona and her response. Then I added, “I want to go back to it and see it through. I thought it was just a discarded idea, but now I feel ready to tackle it again.”
All the same, I let the manuscript set another week. Sure, I thought about turning to it, but other things got in the way. At least that’s what I told myself.
When Ramona and I met online this past Wednesday, the conversation again turned to our respective projects. Her manuscript has yet to be unpacked, but she described some of the plot.
Then she turned her attention to me.
“Grandma, did you work on your novel this week?”
“I tweaked it a little bit, Ramona, but I didn’t do much more than that.”
She went right to the heart of the matter.
“Grandma,” she began, somewhat exasperated. “You need to write. Every day.”
After we finished talking, I again put my manuscript back in my study, but kept returning to it in my mind. Yesterday I picked it up and started reading it from the beginning, making some notes in the margins. I finished reading it this morning and set it down, this time on the coffee table in the living room.
I started that novel in 2013 when Ramona was one. I last worked on it in 2019. My manuscript is, by my rough estimation, 2/3rds done.
I paced a bit around my kitchen then stopped.
“An hour a day.” I said the words out loud in the quiet kitchen. “An hour a day.”
An hour a day.
How many of us who write (or pursue any passion, for that matter) tell ourselves “I’ll get to that tomorrow” and excuse our lack of writing on any number of excuses, starting with “I don’t have time”? I know I do.
Ramona’s clear analysis of the problem was the jumpstart I needed. “You need to write. Every day.”
She’s right. I do need to write every day.
Besides, I have a demanding writing coach looking over my shoulder. One who knows all her logues, one who is working on her own writing.