Every decade or so, I fish through the file cabinet for the original manuscript of my first novel—The Scott Twins in the Jewelry Mystery. Sound familiar? Especially for you Baby Boomers?
Yes, my first printed story. Literally, because I hadn’t learned cursive writing yet. In 1961, I’d copied Laura Lee Hope’s Bobbsey Twins children’s mystery format by simply changing names. In second grade, I had no idea what plagiarizing meant. Nor did I know anything about intellectual property.
This rookie story had seven chapters starting with Snappy’s Find and ending with chapter seven’s A Reward. Can you guess the plot? My seven-year-old mind thought it sparkled, even on the dingy wide-spaced paper whose penciled words and erasures can still be seen.
At the time, my mother worked at Crane Naval Depot in southern Indiana as a clerk typist. Maybe my work of fiction impressed her or maybe not, but she lent her typing skills and onion skin paper to publish her firstborn’s premiere piece.
Mom let me cut out photos from our Sears Catalog to paste on a thick brown folder. I still remember the power of using those scissors to find two sets of perfect twins. That my mother trusted me with scissors was even more astonishing.
Somehow, I instinctively knew each set of twins needed names that started with the same letter. Alliteration, if you can recall 8th grade English. Meet Bonnie and Bobbie, Nancy and Ned. Ms. Hope had paved the way with her plot and characters.
Why is any of this relevant? A few months ago, I finished writing the first full draft of a historical novel that features my mother as a child and a young adult. My prayer is that our granddaughters will advance past the The Scott Twins and the Jewelry Mystery and someday enjoy reading about their great-grandmother.
Even still, Mom’s encouragement continues to motivate me to reach beyond what I think is possible.