Friday Speak Out!: Preschoolers' Writing Rules

Friday, December 05, 2014
by Jeanine DeHoney

I knew I wanted to be a writer since I was seven years old. I remember sitting with my black and white notebooks chronicling my life with a Bic pens. Notebooks were my bird nests, tenderly nestling my deepest thoughts as a young black girl growing up in the projects.

I was confident then, wearing my declaration of being a writer on each pressed back skinny shoulder, with my afro puffed head held high. But as an adult with more responsibilities and a family, that confidence waned. I continued to write but something was missing from my writing soul.

After a serious operation forced me to leave my job at a preschool center, I realized it was a blessing in disguise writer wise. Although money was tight I could finally do what I loved without time constraints. My confidence came back. I owed it in part though to my pint sized teachers, my former preschool students.

They imparted lessons that helped me inject aromatic notes into my writing. They enthused me to notice marvels in unexpected places, to look for the flower growing in a sidewalk crack after a rainstorm and not just the earthworms to cautiously step over.

They taught me to allow laughter to freefall into my writing. They laughed all the time, even when there was a crisis in their life. Laughter is purgative not just for yourself but for your readers.

They taught me to delight in children’s books; the silliness in the funny ones, the non-preachy lessons in the more serious ones, the rhyming stories, their illustrations, their simplicity even though it is a difficult genre to write. These books always helped me to think more creatively and not in an atypical way.

They taught me how to shrug off rejection. If someone didn't want to play with them they'd stick their tongue out and go and find someone else to play with or play alone. I've learned to stick out my tongue at that rejection slip and move on to the next project or publisher.

They taught me to be like honest Abe. They were always blunt about their feelings; what hurt them or made them happy, what they abhorred or loved. They set the bar for me to do the same in my writing to make it more full bodied.

They taught me not to miss a nap. Naps revived even the crankiest preschooler, not to mention giving teachers much needed down time. So I indulge in one, if only for fifteen minutes a day. Bestselling author Janet Evanovich is quoted as saying, “Thinking very often resembles napping, but the intent is different.” When I shut out the world and turn off all my electronic gadgets for just a little while I'm even more ready to get back to writing.

Lastly, they taught me to have an ego. They believed in themselves and their imaginings. I have decided that so will I and I will do it with shoulders pressed back with the conviction of my seven year old self.

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Jeanine DeHoney is a freelance writer whose writing has appeared in several magazines, anthologies and blogs. She has been published in Essence, Empowerment 4Women, Quality Woman’s Fiction, Mused-Bella Online, and, The Write Place At The Write Time, Literary Mama, and My Brown Baby. She’s an essayist in Chicken Soup for the African American Woman’s Soul, and has contributed to the blogs The Mom Egg, The Muffin's Friday Speak-out, True Stories Well Told, Underwater New York, Mutha magazine, and the B Envelope. She was also a finalist in the Brooklyn Film and Arts Festival Nonfiction 2013 contest. Upcoming she has an essay being published in an anthology about African American Grandmothers. 

Would you like to participate in Friday "Speak Out!"? Email your short posts (under 500 words) about women and writing to: marcia[at]wow-womenonwriting[dot]com for consideration. We look forward to hearing from you!



Renee Roberson said...

This is great, Jeanine. If only we could all take writing cues from the youngest people in our lives! Thank you for sharing with us.

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