Writing stories where I get to turn a group of normal kids into heroes while navigating the social minefield of high school has been such an immense joy. There have been some nights where the words were flowing out of me so freely that when I looked up it was well into the wee hours of the morning.
I began writing about a year ago. I was using it as a way to keep my mind and creativity fresh as I left my previous job as a lobbyist and had started as a full time stay at home dad.
My laptop went with me to my kids gymnastics practice twice a week and I used that time to begin a book aimed at kids, boys specifically, in that gap between Middle Grade and Young Adult readers.
My 12 year old daughter is a voracious reader. I felt it necessary to read many of the books and book series’ she wanted to read to make sure they were both challenging enough for her, without the maturity level of their content being too intense.
And to be honest, I was totally enthralled with some of the books, as well. I just knew that I could craft a fun, age appropriate book similar to the one’s I’d been reading along with her.
After a series of emails back and forth to one of my classmates from high school, that included a ton of laughter, I decided to flip a number of my high school adventures and those of others I went to school with into junior spy adventures for a group of students recruited by the US Intelligence community to help our country in the 1980’s.
My daughter has become my number one reader and a helpful critic, giving me advice where the story had gotten flat and where she was just confused at the placement of some scenes that made sense in my head.
The time we’ve been able to spend together chatting about the story, where we all hope it goes, and the absolute fun it can be to sit down and create on a keyboard has brought us closer and has continued the open dialogue we, as parents, always hope we don’t lose as our kids enter their teen years.
I have also had a ton of fun researching material for the book. Whether it was going to a friend’s house to learn how to ride a motorcycle so I could write about it in a genuine manner or studying Romanian royalty and food culture to again ensure authenticity in these fictional tales it has been a blast learning more and more about our world I didn’t have a need for in the past.
Writing also allows me to block out the world around me and create one where kids are recognized for the smart capable beings they really are and not the over-coddled, over-supervised young people that so many adults see them as, especially today.
Retelling how a group of young teens maneuver high school is fun and in some ways
therapeutic. Knowing now, how so many others have experienced and will continue to experience the same struggles most of us faced, at school, at home, and with early romance has given me some great prospective to write these characters from, especially knowing that hard as it was most will find a way through it, relatively unscathed.
I have had to disclose some funny stories to my daughter and wife from high school as they’ve read through the manuscript, most of which have caused serious belly laughter.
Looking back i am always amazed at the things we accomplished as kids and weren’t afraid to try. I’ve always believed that we have the best chance for success at whatever we’re attempting if we are really challenged, mentally and physically, so I decided to take some of my friends from high school and make puberty a little more dangerous than just zit cream, prom dresses and the football team.
Being able to create and shape another world is awesome! The bonus of being able to work on it alongside my daughter makes it even better.
I feel good about the storyline I’m producing and I believe that it will be entertaining and will hopefully inspire future readers to believe in the talents they have and not be dissuaded from trying anything new.