Wednesday, December 30, 2009

writer's block

From the time Sam could put pen to paper he made books. He would sit with a box of markers and a spiral notebook and write away to his hearts content. He became quite a prolific author. I often found his stapled together books strewn over the living room floor and supplies were constantly across the kitchen table. Sam wasn't an author who disdained his audience. Oh no...he invited the audience in adding an "I hope you enjoy this book" or "this one's a really good one!" to his title page. He even dedicated his self published little volumes. This pile of books grew and grew and grew. I confess, but only to you!, that I'd periodically cull through his stack of books and shred those that didn't make the cut. He never really noticed. There were a few narrow misses when he'd ask "Where's my book of mixed up aliens volume 2?" or "Have you seen my Pond life book?" but I always managed to dodge the bullet.

I'm using the past tense because last year Sam stopped making books. Last year was a really rotten rotten year. My creative talented young author was unable to push past his anxiety to even take part in a pasttime he loved. He just lost all zest for an activity he could hardly get enough of a short time ago. Writing was now all about capitalization, punctuation, spelling, following a set formula. He was told he couldn't write about certain topics anymore. He was made to copy over entire pages of work. He was made to cry when he got scolded because his writing was no longer legible due to erasing and scribbling out. It became a punishment when he had to stay in and watch his peers playing at recess out the window while he finished a journal assignment. I didn't realize. It still hurts my heart that I just didn't realize what was going on. I can hardly fault him for not wanting to write anymore. It wasn't fun. It had evolved into something that made him feel shameful and lonely and wrong.

After discovering all that was wrong about last year, I realized why Sam no longer churned out one best seller after another at home. And as much as I missed the little books and as much as I knew how he adored creating and sharing them, I would not push him back into writing. I figured if I did he'd just resist and I was not about to become part of the problem. I heartily hoped that given time, the joy that writing books was to Sam, would return. I gave him spiral notebooks and markers and at first he just made lists. He listed all his favorite jungle animals, foods he liked, foods he didn't like, snakes he wants to meet, natural disasters that scare him, and on and on and on. He filled an entire three subject notebook with his lists. Sometimes he illustrated them but mostly he didn't. He likes to number his lists and tally things up every so often. Sometimes when he was making a list, I'd lean over and ask him to share it with me. I'd give him my input (umm...there aren't ANY snakes I want to meet!). Still no books but I could tell that the stress and anxiety was beginning to ebb away.

A couple nights before Christmas I had tucked the girls in bed and Sam was tucked in on the couch. I was wrapping presents or working on the Christmas cards or something when the cat began doing something that had Sam and I in stitches. The girls joined us and the four of us were literally holding our sides from laughing. After all the hilarity had passed, I tucked the girls back in and came out to find Sam at the kitchen table with a pen and several pieces of scrap paper. Even though it was past his bedtime, well past his bedtime, I let him be. He left this little gem of a book on the kitchen counter for his Dad who was at work.

To Dad
Last night's news Kitten vs Reindeer food

I was minding my own business when Marie who was in the kitchen called me. Marie told me that Baadaabooty had jumped on top of the counter and grabbed the reindeer food.

Then I saw Benjamin Baadaabooty Ben 10 Blotner had the bag of reindeer food in his mouth. I took the reindeer food went to tell the girls and put the bag on the counter.

And he did the same thing over and over again. Then we decided to put the reindeer food in the fridge. The End

Here is the accompanying illustration

It may not be Pulitzer prize material but it's a start. And he smiled the whole way through, from beginning to end. I adore a happy ending.


Wilma said...

Aww Marie, how wonderful. You have me all teary eyed with this blog post! So happy Sam connected with his writing muse again.

I heart said...

That is so sweet!! I hope this sparks his love for writing again!

Sarah said...

yeah! so happy for both you and Sam. Love his story too.

karla said...

love this post. I have tears in my eyes and a stifled chuckle. Sam is an amazing kid.

Kim said...

You can tell Sam that I think it's a fantastic story and I smiled all the way through too.

Dori said...

So sorry Sam had such a difficult school year last year, but I'm so glad he's taken that first step in recovering his love of writing.