Guest post from author Erin Dealey
You might know a child like me: one you’d NEVER expect to write children’s books. One who thinks of writing as very serious business–definitely not fun.
I loved school. I loved recess with my friends, playing outside. Huge thanks to my teachers who encouraged every spark of creativity. Oh how I loved reading to the kindergartners, or opening that box of brand new books from the Book Club. (I can still smell them! Can You?) Thank you, Mr. Markey, who assigned 6th-grade autobiographies, and did not grumble when I turned in a biography of me–written by my shadow…
Endless gratitude to growing up in Oakland CA, on a hill where you learned how to stop your bike or jump off your skateboard before the stop sign at the bottom; in a neighborhood where kindness was the norm, and we played together, looked after each other.
My favorite place to do homework was on top of our garage, where a sawed-off footstool (Thanks, Dad!) made the perfect desk, surrounded by the neighbor’s treetops. I liked Math because there was a process to follow to get the right answer and, if my answer was wrong, there was a formula to fix it. With writing, not so much. To me, it felt like you had to be psychic to figure out what the teacher wanted. So, nope, writing wasn’t my thing.
Until Mrs. Uhrig made us write in journals. In junior high, that journal often understood me better than anyone. I wrote notes to friends on gum wrappers, the teeny-tiniest writing the better. We’d copy the words to our favorite songs so we could memorize the lyrics and sing along. On the way home from school, we’d crack ourselves up with puns and jokes. You know–like what if we started a rock band called Joe Banana and the Bunch, music with appeal?
But WRITING, the stuff you did for a grade–No thanks. To this day, I remember 10th grade English, when I read my alliteration poem aloud and the whole class laughed. Perhaps that’s why, Senior year, when my friends took Creative Writing, I took Drama.
No surprise when I entered a university as a Math major and French minor. Until a guidance counselor saw I was taking all those English classes and asked why. Which lead to me graduating as an English major with a minor in Art. (Surprise!) Soon, a teaching credential in hand, I taught high school English and Theater. The perk was I KNEW those kids who didn’t think they could write. My Creative Writing class was full of them–seniors who were avoiding College Bound English. I’m proud to say we wrote every day. Happily. When you find your voice, words are power.
The Writing Project (Area3/ UCDavis) furthered my conviction that good writing wasn’t just perfect sentence structure and mechanics. It’s a process I love. As a teacher who writes, I tell students that after you know the rules, you begin to see where you don’t need to follow them.
I used to think I started writing when I couldn’t find the plays I needed for my theater kids to perform. In fact, I learned cadence and rhythm from Motown, Smokey Robinson & the Miracles, and Shakespeare. I learned to play with words and rhyme on those walks home from school. I am thankful every day for those who encouraged me to think outside the box– or on top of our garage.
That was my writing path.
I loved words all along. 🙂
NOTE from MCBD: We are lucky enough to have Erin as an Author Sponsor for MCBD2019! View her, and all of the other amazing Author Sponsors, on your 2019 Author Sponsor Page. #ReadYourWorld!
Author Erin Dealey writes in many genres, from board books to YA, including K IS FOR KINDERGARTEN (Sleeping Bear/illus. Joseph Cowman); GRANDPA’S FAVORITE and companion book GRANDMA’S FAVORITE (2018), as well as BABIES COME FROM AIRPORTS –a kids’-
eye view of international adoption– Kane Miller / illus. Luciana Navarro Powell; and DECK THE WALLS (Sleeping Bear Press/ illus. Nick Ward).
When her initial career goal of Olympic Gold Medal Tetherball Player didn’t pan out, she became a teacher, theater director, actor, mom, and author. Among Dealey’s forthcoming picture books are SNOWGLOBE WISHES (illus. Claire Shorrock/ Sleeping Bear, winter 2019); PETER EASTER FROG (Caitlyn Dlouhy Books/Atheneum, illus. G. Brian Karas, 2021), and DEAR EARTH…letters from Room 5 (Harper Collins). Dealey’s first picture books with Atheneum, GOLDIE LOCKS HAS CHICKEN POX, and LITTLE BO PEEP CAN’T GET TO SLEEP have taken her to school visits as far south as Brazil and as far north as Tok, Alaska. Dealey is a former SCBWI Co-RA for CA North/Central, frequent conference presenter, and the social media/ PR Coordinator for East West Literary.