Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Who I Write For...

I know it seems like such an obvious thing. I write kidlit--therefore I write for kids. And that's true--I do write for kids. And I am dreaming of the day I'll get to see MY BOOK in kids' hands--and hopefully they'll even have smiles on their faces. *wistful sigh*

But when I write, I'm not thinking about some nameless mass of kid readers that I'm trying to appeal to. I'm only thinking about one kid:

Yep--in case you haven't guessed--that's me, with the thick bangs (why, Mom? WHY?) and the obsessively lined up stuffed animals on my bed (they're arranged by HEIGHT--that is some serious pre-OCD going on there!!!) (and Ella is shockingly absent. I must be pretty young in this photo.)

Like I said in my post yesterday--I write for me. So when I'm dreaming up scenes or characters, I'm seeing them through the eyes of this girl:

Who had to pick every flower within a ten mile radius 
(clearly this was before I discovered that fresh flowers generally have BUGS CRAWLING ON THEM *shudder*)
(Side note: WHAT AM I WEARING????)

And this girl:
Who loved Barbies arguably more than any little kid has ever loved them before

And this girl:
Who had the tannest legs EVER because she spent every afternoon in the pool, from the moment she got home from school to the moment the sun set.
(only way to survive growing up in the desert)
(And yes, I'm aware of the hat)
(I ... don't want to talk about it)

The same girl who ALWAYS had messy hair in her school pictures because she hated picture day (and the camera in general) and still played outside during recess:

(ugh--the pre-braces teeth.)
(Guess it really was worth all the pain and suffering)

Except, of course, THE YEAR OF THE PERM:
(Dear Mom: I do remember begging you to let me do this--but why, WHY did you let me????)
(I thought the bangs couldn't get any worse, but PERMED BANGS????)
(um ... I think we also need to talk about the dress)

I think you get the point, without needing any more horribly embarrassing Shannon pictures. Well, maybe one more (though this one's not TOO bad):
(I had to leave you with something besides that horrible perm)

That's the girl I'm thinking about as I write.

What did she like? What would she want to read about? I write scenes I know she would've loved (and surprisingly they're not as girly as you'd think. I may be in dresses/pink/purple in most of those pics--and yes I had a Barbie obsession--but I was not all that girlie of a kid. I lived outside.)

Young Shannon was also a BIG reader--and kind of picky about what she liked--so it's not always easy to keep her happy. She constantly pushes me to try harder.

And focusing on that little girl makes writing stay fun for me, despite revision and deadlines and everything else that gets piled on top of it. I'm just keeping my inner child happy, telling myself the kind of stories I've always loved.

So I guess that means I have to hope that there's a bunch of 9-12 year-old Me's out there, desperate to read my book. Which is actually a terrifying thought. A world full of miniature Shannons would be a very scary place. (especially if they had permed bangs *headdesk*) :)

What about you guys--who do you write for?

Actually, better question: do any of you have equally embarrassing childhood photos? PLEASE tell me you do!


  1. Omg! You actually shared a ton of embarrassing childhood photos?! You are so brave! I'm too much of a wimp to share photos from even a few years ago. :P

    But I agree so, so much with you -- I write for me, too. My teenaged self, specifically. I wrote an entire blog post about it. I was a picky reader, too (and still am), and I hope I can write something my younger self would approve of! :)

  2. Bring back the Shannon Perm!!!! Yay!!

    Thank you for sharing these gorgeous pics of you - brave soul that you are! Awww adorable!!

    Of course your books will make many other little Shannons happy and smiley!! Yay!

    At the moment I'm writing my ms with me in mind! I can't be alone in wanting to read such a story!?!?

    Take care

  3. I think I write for my two daughters. They are the readers I want to impress and who I want to love my novel. But I have to enjoy what I'm writing, so I'm writing for myself too.

  4. You are just adorable.

    Believe it or not, Little Shelley just might be a bigger dork than Little Shannon.

    Such a sweet post.


  5. Embarassing childhood pics? Well, I was gonna deny it, but I just couldn't. There are too many to deny. I never had a perm, but my Dorothy Hamill cut made me look like a mushroom. (Dad even called me mushroom, until it grew out.)

    As for who I write for... I write for myself. I want to produce books I would enjoy reading - you know, if I weren't me and I was just browsing the shelves looking for something good.

  6. Wow. And I thought you were cute as an adult.

  7. LOVE this very brave post!! LOL. I have a hideous picture with Santa, where I'm wearing a baby blue angel shirt with awful red and black PLAID pants!! *shivers*

  8. Aww! Look at you!

    I started writing for myself as a teen—no pics survive from that awful time period—and I think I still do.

    Fun post!

  9. I have several perm photos, with my hair teased SO big. We will keep those in my parents house, where no one can see them.

  10. Props to you for sharing embarrassing childhood photos...I don't know if I'm that brave yet. I write for myself as a kid too, since I was constantly looking for a challenging read that was also engaging. Sadly, I didn't find them as often as I would have liked, and I wish that some of the books available now had been available then. The kids of the future are so lucky! :D

  11. Aww! So you've always had that amazing smile?!

    I know for a fact that I haven't any embarrassing photos from my youth. Ahem.

  12. Hey, you were a cute kid. After my 2 year pictures... *shudder* I had perma-perm because my mother believed in the power of the curl, I tell ya. I'm so glad my roommates persuaded me to straighten it in college. I kept it that way until I got pregnant and now it's naturally curly and with each pregnancy it gets a little curlier... Ahhhh!

    Cute post! I write for me, too.

  13. I had a bowl cut for nine years and braces and thick thick glasses. So, no, I don't have any embarrassing pictures.

    The sweatpants and tucked in confetti shirt are smart. You're prepared for any occasion.

    I write for the teenage me. Since I'm a boy, I haven't changed much.

  14. Haha, I CUT MY BANGS ON PICTURE DAY. All my mom said was, "Please tell me you did that BEFORE they took your picture" and I didn't say anything...figured I'd leave it as a nice surprise to pep her life up.

  15. I have a ton of embarrassing childhood photos. Most of my yearbook pictures in grade school were. Ugh. So far, all the pictures of my boys are cute ones, I'll have to be sure to get some embarrassing ones for when they start dating. It's almost a rite of passage, you know?

  16. I LOVE it! I've shared more than a few of my own on my blog and, DUDE, if you ever want to see bad bangs that my Mom was 110% responsible for personally hacking, drop by some time. You know, I never stopped to think that I should be writing for the (loooong ago) younger me. I tend to think of my 5 year old daughter and if she'd like it.

  17. Love the pics.

    I have lots of embarrassing pictures, but they are safely tucked away in a dark, dark box. lol.

  18. Is that Brave Heart Lion of the Care Bear Cousins in the top left hand corner of the first photo?

  19. Ok, I'm still laughing over the *headdesk* and the perm. And I'm laughing about the perm because I had the same one. Permmed bangs and all. Why oh why indeed?!?!
    Madeleine L'Engle once said that the benefit of getting older is that you're still all the other ages you ever were. That's what helped her write for young adults: she remembered how she felt, what she struggled with at those ages.

    Thanks for sharing! You are quite brave :D


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