Tuesday, September 29, 2009

My First Fan

When I was in fourth grade, I wrote my very first novel. A new American Girl story. (For those of you unfamiliar with the franchise, they are a historical fiction series about young girls growing up in various times of American history. They also sell dolls with each character.)

**Sad story time: Oh how I longed for an American Girl Doll. We had the entire set of books, but the gorgeous dolls with all of their fun, historically accurate outfits and accessories?? No. And I never got one, despite a several year fascination with them. Are you feeling sorry for fourth grade Renee yet?? Yes? Good. Moving on then.**

Anyway, so my story was Meet Kalani. The story of a young Hawaiian girl growing up during the annexation of the island chain into a state. When I first found it, I was expecting it to be hilariously bad. But you know what? It was pretty darn good! Lots of scaffolding. A few minor plot holes and several unnecessary scenes, but on the whole, I was quite proud of my nine year old self.

Well that's not the best part. Last night, for the first time, I sat beside my five year old daughter and read her my story. And let me tell you, she was captivated.

She cracked up at all the lame jokes. Gasped in horror at the mention of the evil Hawaiian Monk Seal poacher. Cried when he killed Kalani's pet seal's mother. (Seriously, she started to cry. So I had to quickly ad-lib a part in the story where the mother was actually just hurt, but she gets better and swims away.) And at at the end, when the crowd at the hula and music festival is cheering on Kalani's wonderful ukulele playing, my daughter was literally jumping up and down on the couch, squealing with joy.

After I finished, and after she hugged me and told me that I wrote the best stories ever, she immediately ran to the kitchen table to start writing her own story.

I don't need to tell you how the whole experience made me feel. I think my husband put it best. "This is why you write," he said. "No matter what happens, you can know that you've given a wonderful gift to your children with these stories."

Perspective like that makes it all worthwhile.


Amanda Hannah said...

Darn it, Renee. My eyes are watering lol. What a great story.

I totally want to find one of those dolls now and send it to you

sraasch said...

Oh my gosh. That has to be the sweetest thing I've read in a long time. Wow, Renee -- makes me want to have kids. Almost ;)

You never got an American Girl Doll?! Sad, indeed! You must buy one for your daughter now, just to complete the circle. I had Felicity, and let me tell you, my childhood was definitely improved by her and her super-fun historical accessories :)

Anonymous said...

That just gave me such a warm fuzzy feeling inside. Is there any better fan in the world? I told my husband that even if my novels only ever sit on our bookshelves for family to read I think I can still be happy having written them.

Natalie Whipple said...

Aw, that was so sweet. Totally tearing up.

Lady Glamis said...

Renee! I got goose bumps reading this. Oh my goodness that is such a wonderful thing to share. That IS why we write. Not to get published. Not to get ahead, but to share. And to share with the most important people in our lives doesn't take a publishing contract. :)

Becca said...

Oh Ren....I, like many of your friends here, upon reading this blog, cried :) And I can just see little dramatic Amber, crying tragically and laughing with glee and your brilliant "Hawaiian American Girl" Story! It should be published...honestly. You are a great writer Renee...even as a young girl, and little Amber could see it -- what is it they say -"Out of the mouths of babes" :)

Jessie Oliveros said...

I had Samantha, but I always wanted all the cute accessories that went with her. Now AG has exploded, and it really stresses me out that there are so many girls to keep track of. I mean, three were hard enough.

Of course, they could probably really use Kalani. I think they did have an island girl one year as their feature girl. You are just ahead of the game.

I love that your daughter loved your story. I tell my son stories about giants but they are not very involved-just a lot of squashing trees and picking up houses. Sometimes they fart.

Why am I still commenting? Oh yea, you're awesome. So is your daughter.

Miriam S.Forster said...

Wow. Just wow. I'm going to put that into my "great thoughts to live by file."

Even if nothing happens with my writing professionally, it's still a gift to my family.


Renee Collins said...

Amanda-You know, even after all this time, being a big grown up, I still think I would like an American Girl doll. :)

Sara-Oh man, Felicity was the one I wanted. I was actually Felicity for Halloween one year! *is jealous*

Candice-So so true. I think that's why my husband is adamant that I self publish all of my trunk novels. Just so that we can have them on the shelves.

Natalie- Thanks. I was too, last night. :)

Michelle-Yes! I love the way you put it. Sharing our stories with the most important people doesn't take a publishing contract. I think I'm going to put that on a poster in my room. :)

Becca-Well, it's a little short, but it could be tweaked. :) And yes, Amber hilariously into the story. :)

Jessie-Actually, it might surprise you to know that they have never done a Hawaiian girl, at least not as one of the Historical characters. So maybe there really is a chance . . .

Also, stories about giants that fart are a guarenteed winner with little boys.

Miriam-It really was kind of an ah ha moment for me last night. I mean, I'm sure I've said the words, but last night it really hit home. :)

storyqueen said...

Aside from your post making me feel really old (you were little enough to have been a kid during American Girl Standard Time????)I found your post so sweet.

Keep Writing!!!


Patti said...

That's awesome. I'm with Candice, if it's just family and friends who read my books I'll be fine.

Kasie West said...

That is an amazing story. I love it. My eleven year old always begs me to let her read my books, but I tell her not until she is thirteen. I've been toying with the idea of writing a MG just for her. I think your story made me want to do it.

I'm also impressed with the fact that at such a young age, you wrote a book that is obviously right on target for the age group intended.

Alex Moore said...

what a delightful story...way to go, mom! :)

Krista G. said...

Loved this post. I can't wait until my little boy and girl are old enough to understand my stories.