Envisioning My Dream
Guest post on vision by Sydney Campanella (age 12)
My vision for writing books started when I was very young. Even when I was a toddler, my mom would read and reread books to me, and then from memory I would tell them back while looking at the pictures. At night my mom would finish the last page of a book and say, “time to go to bed.” I’d always reply with “one mo” which meant “one more.” It was one of the first phrases I learned to say and my mom couldn’t say no so she read one more book. Finally, after 15 or 16 books, she’d get me in bed.
On my mom’s side of the family there are lots of writers dating back to the late 1800s when my great-great-great grandfather Edward Eggleston published many history books and some novels. My grandmother, Elizabeth Williams, was also a writer as is my mom. My mom writes poetry and creative nonfiction and my grandmother worked for newspapers and wrote feature stories. I never actually thought too much about authors, since I was so accustomed to being around them. Some kids were counting the numbers of authors they met and telling all their friends, “I’ve met two!” or “I’ve met four!” I wasn’t. People would ask me and I wouldn’t know what to say. I didn’t get why it was such a big deal.
When I was in preschool, I would draw pictures to a story and then tell it to my mom. She would write it down and fold the paper into a little book.
After I turned five, my mom published her second poetry book, What Flies Away. I remember holding my copy and asking her “How do I get my book to look like this?” My mom suggested multiple times that we could create a home-made book by stapling a few pages together. I kept insisting that I wanted one like hers.
At the age of seven I thought maybe I could write a novel. So, I sat down at my desk with a pencil and some notebook paper and began to write about a cat named Pocadot and her adventures. It told the story of Pocadot having over 30 kittens. Their school teacher got sick and the kittens went to visit a lot. The story wandered, but at the end, it was Christmas. The school teacher got better and the kittens enjoyed opening their stockings and playing with their new toys. Although hand-written, it was over 100 pages. After having my dad edit it, I gave it to my mom for Christmas. She was so amazed and touched. Although it had tons of plot, spelling and grammatical errors, it was definitely the start of my writing career.
By the time I was 10, I had written beginnings to lots of stories including at least five starts to sequels of the Pocadot story. I came up with so many new ideas that it was hard to finish each story.
In the fall of 2011, my mom decided to start a writing class. I invited my friend, Lauren-Kate, to join. In the beginning, we had no idea what to expect with the class. My mom told us we would each get to write a novel. I brainstormed for a while creating two characters in my mind and writing down information about them. I began writing after much thought of what the book would be about and what the conflicts and the climax would be. It took a while, but I enjoyed the work. I typed up my first draft and then began to do the editing in January. The whole process took a little under a year, only because I worked on it just about every school day. But I was very pleased with the finished product. When the proof copy came in the mail, I couldn’t put it down. I was so excited that I had written it. I had a real published book just like my mom’s poetry book. When I was young, I had seen this day in my mind, but I hadn’t felt it. I didn’t know how happy and excited I would be. Even though, I had envisioned this, the reality of this dream coming true showed me what you can do if you apply yourself.
I took the summer off and enjoyed the vacation from writing. Some authors might stop after one book, but I didn’t want to do that. Although, there was lots of stuff to do, like marketing, I started working on a sequel to my first book, when I was 11. A year later, it was published. It was over 200 pages long. In the fall of 2013, I started my third book. I plan to continue my dream and vision from when I was young with more books in the Matt and Teresa mystery series.
I’ve learned there’s a lot more to being an author than just writing the book. Marketing is a big thing that I’ve been involved with lately. I had to create a website, sell my books at craft fairs and bookstores and attend readings. Even though I was around authors when I was young, I never realized all the work you had to put in to making a book successful. I envisioned the joy of writing the book and letting other people read it. And that’s what kept me going through the difficult stages of writing my books.
What advice do you have for other young girls who are looking for vision in their lives? Choose something that feels natural to you and work on it. Set a goal and use that to spur yourself on. When you get discouraged it always helps to get encouragement from supportive people.
Sydney was in a writing class with her friend Lauren-Kate who also wrote two books (see her story under “Confidence”).by