Each month, we ask one distinguished author or illustrator to write an original post that reveals insights about their process and craft. Enjoy!
by Lois Lowry
Photo provided by Lois Lowry, 2009
We’re starting school. First day. My sister and me: we are eight and five; second grade and kindergarten.
I’m the younger sister. And the photograph, taken in 1942, is black and white. Amazingly, though, I remember the color of everything: our matching jackets (navy blue), my skirt (royal blue), Helen’s dress (blue and red plaid), and our shoes, dark brown and freshly polished.
Why the little purses? (Mine was red) I suppose they took the place of today’s backpacks and contained our treasured pencils and erasers.
What I remember most (because the memory was reinforced each September) is the feeling of anticipation. Everything was new, exciting, yet to be discovered. I felt that way each fall for years: all the way through graduate school. There would be bullies and unfair teachers and, eventually, the binomial theorem to face. But what you felt, each fall, was the beauty of the clean lined paper, the smell of the brand new pencils, the unpeeled crayons with pointed tips, the perfect placement of your desk.
And I still feel that way each time I begin writing a book. There is something about the vast empty space, waiting: the sense of possibility, and the mystery of it.
Interestingly, book characters seem to feel the same way, at least in books by me:
Annemarie runs down a street, laughing, with her best friend, on an ordinary day.
Jonas rides his bicycle along a path in his well-ordered community.
Matty grumbles good-naturedly as he helps to prepare dinner.
It never takes long before things begin to be complicated, of course. It was true for me as a schoolgirl; by October my notebook was disorganized and I didnt really understand long division, and three girls had formed a club that excluded me. But I would soldier on (so would Annemarie, Jonas, and Matty—along with me, the writer) to the destination, hard going though it would be at times.
And eventually the time would come again: the next start. The new lunchbox, the brand new shoes of September.
Or the fresh Page 1, Chapter One and the feeling of anticipation once more. It never diminishes.
An original article by author Lois Lowry.
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