Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Being a Writer Spoils Everything

Well, almost everything.

The Kiddo is a passive sort of reader. I am ashamed to admit that. I am ashamed to admit that she prefers me reading to her than to go off in a corner and read by herself. I have to remind myself that she is only eight, and I try to recall, in the dim recesses of my mind, what I was reading on my own at 8.

It's hard for me to ever remember a time I wasn't a voracious reader. But I do have a clear recollection of the time reading became a fantabulous way to while away the hours.

When I was 9, I'd moved to a new and larger school that boasted a larger library than the one at my previous school. I was amazed because at this school, there was no imaginary line down the middle, and no librarian patrolling that line, saying, "You're too little for these books."

I was allowed to check out any book of my heart's desire at this new library. And when my eye fell upon a shelf of Nancy Drew mysteries, that was my heart's desire.

Carolyn Keene, a pseudonym, I know now, was the first author I glommed. I loved Nancy Drew. She was so smart and so with it, and I wanted a blue roadster like hers and strawberry blond hair like hers and to be able to have terrific adventures like she did.

I can credit Nancy Drew and Trixie Belden with a large part of my love for writing and reading. So naturally, I wanted to share that with The Kiddo. It was a proud day when we checked out The Kiddo's very first Nancy Drew mystery for our nightly reading time together.

Imagine my disappointment when I started reading THE SECRET OF THE OLD CLOCK and I encountered hopping heads and adverbitis and passive language.

I've hid it well (I hope) from The Kiddo. But as I'm reading, I find myself thinking, "I liked this? I really enjoyed this?"

Yes, I've moved on and grown more sophisticated. But there are some books that stand the test of time: the Beverly Cleary books, for instance, and even though they weren't around in my childhood, I'll fight you for a Junie B. Jones book.

The Kiddo has finally gotten into THE SECRET OF THE OLD CLOCK -- and I suspect that's more because the chapters are shorter and the writer started using cliffhanger chapterhooks. I make it a point to torture The Kiddo and not allow us to go beyond a chapter. Maybe, just maybe, she'll sneak around and start reading ahead on her own.


Karen Amanda Hooper said...

Ah, childhood books bring back such memories.

I loved your comment on my blog yesterday. Our mothers must have been friends because I too read Harlequins at ten years old. (My favs were the rare paranormal stories. I still remember a leprechaun one that I LOVED.)

AND yes, my mom also watched Falcon Crest and Dallas and let me watch with her. I remember betting her how long it would take before someone got slapped. lol.

It must have paid off because I think we turned out great. ;)

Piedmont Writer said...

I could never get into Nancy, I was into Trixie. And Judy Blume. And horses. Anything with horses.

Now Monster Baby is too. And she's only 5. How do I tell her I can't read Black Beauty to her because I'll cry.

Mia said...

LOL, this post brings back memories. I swear I spent half of my childhood reading. You could almost always find my nose stuck in some book. Forget about friends (I was a loner... the shy kid who was too busy daydreaming to play).

Instead of Nancy Drew, The Boxcar Children were the books I consumed. A few years ago, I stumbled across a copy of one of them, and started to read it. My first thought was, I used to read these and loved them? But they're all the same... and how come the kids had about 100 summer vacations, yet magically stayed the same age? ;) Being a writer (or maybe just an adult) does spoil everything. LOL.

Lola Sharp said...

Childhood favorites don't always stand up to our adult views.
That said, Charlotte's Web still works for me as much now as ever. And A Wrinkle in Time.

Yes, being a writer can really spoil the fun of an interesting story horribly written.

Cynthia Reese said...

Karen, were we twins??

Anne, I thought Trixie was the coolest, because she actually got away with grumbling about housework and math. Gleeps! Good luck on Black Beauty ... I read TALES OF A FOURTH-GRADE NOTHING to The Kiddo, and she cried when Fudge ate the turtle.

Mia, I know what you mean ... I remember The Boxcar Children ... tried to read it to The Kiddo, and I just couldn't. But I loved it as a kid. Go figure.

Oh, Lola! I so loved A WRINKLE IN TIME. Can't wait for The Kiddo to get old enough for us to read it together. Won't be much longer if I have anything to do with it.

Charlotte's Web, though ... probably won't happen. The Kiddo has a horrid fear of spider webs. Not spiders. Spider WEBS.

Linda G. said...

Gleeps! It was Trixie Belden all the way for me. I tried Nancy a time or two, but she never did it for me.

L. T. Host said...

I LOVE Nancy Drew. But I haven't picked one up in years, either. Maybe I should...

I was also into Trixie Belden and the Boxcar Children and the Hardy Boys and pretty much you name it, I read it as a kid. Adult books, too-- Chrichton and McCaffrey and Lackey, etc.

Ah, memories...

Neil John Buchanan said...

I've got all that to come, mine are still very young and demand Mr Men most nights.

Actually, quite enjoy doing the voices.

Angie Paxton said...

Oh no, not Nancy Drew! Those books can't be badly written. I spent some of my most enjoyable childhood hours with them. Thank heavens I still have my Anne of Green Gables series. Those have stood the test of time for me.

Lickety Splitter said...

I think I started off in grade school with Laura Ingalls Wilder's books, then on to Little Women, then Nancy Drew, then Trixie Belden, then Harlequin romances, then Stephen King, then John Grisham, then self help, science, the side of buses, tea leaves, smoke signals, whatever could be read, I tried to read it. Only slightly exaggerating. My latest favorite "novel" reads are by Sarah Addison Allen because she is a southern writer who infuses a bit of magic into an "adult" book.

Susan Kaye Quinn said...

You can't force the little ones to love reading on their own, especially when reading with Mom means cuddle time as well as dramatization! I had the same struggle with my (now) 9yo - a year ago, I still had to sit with him, but now he banishes me from the room and hides books under his covers so he can read with the lights out.

Me: "At least turn on the light so you don't ruin your eyes!"


Jennifer Shirk said...

Oh, isn't that funny. I loved the old Nancy Drew when I was young too.
Have you read any of the new Judy Moody stuff? My daughter reads that so I flipped through and started reading it too. Really cute stuff.

Jamie D. said...

I'm another one who never really got into Nancy Drew. I did love Trixie though, and still go back to read those sometimes. I liked the Hardy Boys mysteries too.

I was a pretty voracious reader even back then there were plenty of others. ;-)

Here's hoping your daughter gets hooked enough to start stealing away for her own reading time soon...

Cynthia Reese said...

Linda, I always hoped Trixie and Jim would get together ... see? Even then, I had romance on the brain.

L.T. Host, have a more forgiving eye than I did when you do pick up a Nancy Drew book ... I'm concentrating now on what WORKS in her books, and remembering that the book was written in 1930.

Neil, I think that's why The Kiddo likes me reading to her. She says, "Mommy, they don't sound like that when I read it." Flattery will get her everywhere!

Angie, I'm in it for the long haul, as The Kiddo wants to read ALL of them. So maybe the next few are better than the first? Kind of like the pilot of a tv show?

LOL, Lickety Splitter! I too would probably read smoke signals! Addicted to the printed word, I am!

Susan, you reassure me almost as much as the mom who told me not to worry that The Kiddo wouldn't spend the night away from home. She said her son was now a jet-setting world traveler and she never saw him. Guess he was making up for lost time?

Jennifer, I have read Judy Moody -- she's pretty cool, too.

Jamie D, I am hoping that if The Kiddo is going to sneak around on me, it will be reading! And yay to find another Trixie fan!

out of the wordwork said...

OMG. I totally had that exact same Nancy Drew. When I saw that picture I flashed back to our old farmhouse where the family before us had left all these old books (originals) from the 30's and 40's. I still remember that musty old book smell and sitting in our red armchair reading them all. Not exactly great literature but boy did I devour them. Thanks for the flashback, Cynthia!