You read that correctly: A nine year old child, with just a few ideas and a few very short stories scrawled on a few sheets of line paper, is now a published author. How did she do it?
The simple answer? She did the work.
The long answer is a bit more complicated, but I’ll keep it fairly short and sweet, because this isn’t my story; it’s Hannah’s.
Hannah is a 9 year old elementary student in Washington State. She recently wrote 3 short stories as part of her assignment for school. Needless to say, her teachers were so impressed with her work that she was invited to attend a young author’s conference. Eventually through word of mouth, it got back to me through her mother, who happened to tell Hannah that she knew two authors. This made Hannah BEYOND excited, so I’m told.
So, about a week and a half ago, this tiny child got an opportunity to approach me, after I requested to read her stories. Initially, I thought they were going to be somewhat okay, fairly good work.
I was wrong. Dead wrong.
Hannah’s work is, for lack of a better statement, beyond amazing. It is DIVINE, inspired writing for such a young child.
As I sat down and read through her work, I was constantly and repeatedly blown away by her ability to craft an actual narrative. It was so good, that I had to stop every few sentences and ask her questions about what she wrote, and why. The first story, The Tale of a Wizard, came in at about 500 words long. In that short amount of space, Hannah was able to create intrigue, surprise, mystery, and action. I truly found myself unable to wait to get to the next paragraph to see what happened next.
When I finished reading all three stories, I stopped and turned to Hannah, as well as her mother, and told her, “Hannah, I need you to know something right now. I’m not your Mom, or your Dad, so you know that I’m not being nice to you for the sake of being nice. And I am telling you, that your writing is BEYOND good. You should not be able to write this well for your age. This needs to be a full book, because it is THAT good. There’s nothing wrong here, the only things here are things that you will just learn as you get older and get more experienced, just like the rest of us at pretty much… everything.”
At this point, they were both excited.
There’s a funny thing that my mother used to say to me when I was a little kid: “The Lord loves a working man.” She explained to me her interpretation of that as being, if someone is working hard, and doing the very best that they can, we should always pitch in to give them an extra hand and help them succeed even more, especially when they’re on the straight and narrow. And that’s when it clicked in my head:
Oh wait. I KNOW how to get this book published. I did it myself, so why can’t I do the same for her?
And so, I decided to take on that very task. Hannah and I sat and talked about it for a few minutes, and we pinky swore on it (that’s serious business!) that we would turn her stories into a full book before her author’s conference. I offered to do this work pro bono (and I jokingly said to her mother, “You know why? Hey, she’s like, 9 years old. She doesn’t have a job, how would she pay me?”)
Over the next week and a half, I sat down and tasked myself to putting her book together. At no point was there another adult involved in the process besides myself. This was Hannah’s book, Hannah’s project, and it was her baby. All during that time, I took my direction purely from her, explaining the process as it went and showing her how I build the pieces that put the book together into a finished product. I asked her for an illustration to go with each short story; She delivered faster than I’ve ever seen. I asked and conferred with her whenever I needed to make an editing change or to fix typos, and got her approval each time.
She’s the boss; I just work here.
A week and a half later and after a few minor hiccups, I finished the book and submitted it for print review, all ready to go with Hannah’s blessing and approval. While I did this work, I briefly mentioned it a few times casually on facebook, as well as shared the process of putting her book together with a few pictures. The response was AMAZING.
People wanted Hannah’s book. Here’s a few of the things said:
- Iowan 3rd Grade Elementary Teacher: “I want a copy for myself and each of my teaching partners. I want my students to see that if you strive for excellence in writing, you can be an author, regardless of your age and whether anybody else says you “can”!”
- Wisconsin Mother of Three: “You’ll have to give us a heads up when it’s ready for purchase 🙂 I really think I might need to pick up a couple copies for a couple kids in my life :-)”
- Anonymous Male Commenter: “That young lady will remember you forever. And, call me crazy, but I smell a future story in there somewhere. Also thanks for proving that good and kind people are still out there doing things to make our world a little better one child’s smile at a time.”
That really was it. I stopped and thought about it for a while and really realized what I was doing there: I was showing Hannah early, that if you sit down and do the hard part, where you really bust it out and get the work done, that you will be rewarded for your effort. But what REALLY happened? How did all this come together?
Hannah never complained. She never made excuses for why she couldn’t FOLLOW HER AMBITION. She never said things like she “couldn’t make time” for it, and she never doubted herself. She believed in her OWN ability to write and craft; It wasn’t that other people believed in her.
Hannah BELIEVED IN HERSELF. The rest of US had to catch on.
I never did any actual real “work” on this project; I simply was the right person in the right place, at the right time, with the correct skills to help make this happen. I didn’t do it for pay, or some kind of expected return. I was happy to take the time to do it. If I was able to make and find time to help realize a young dream, and Hannah was able to make and find time to realize HER dream (she’s also a little cheerleader!), then the only question left is… why haven’t YOU?
The Tale of a Wizard And Other Stories is available for sale, RIGHT NOW.
Full Color on White paper
Any and all revenue generated by sales of Tale of a Wizard go 100% to Hannah Woods’ college fund. She did the work, she holds the copyright and the publishing rights. It won’t be tainted by adult hands!
So what are you waiting for? Support our writing youth, and we might all be sitting on the dawn of a new best-selling author in a decade or so. Or… maybe even now. Who knows? But you know what? ALL OF US can make that happen, if we just give a tiny bit of our time. She might have written a story about a wizard, but I think that SHE was the one that pulled the real magic trick.
Congratulations, Hannah. You earned it. Thank you for being a great author, and letting me help you fulfill your very young dreams. I can’t wait to get my autographed copy.
P.S. Unfortunately, this is the last time that Hannah and I will get to see each other for a while (circumstances are making me have to relocate back home), and so she and I sat down and had a long talk. She wasn’t very happy about it. So, as a good bye gift….
….Hannah gave me her rough draft of the stories to keep. My heart is breaking. I made a new pinky swear with her that I would come back and see her as soon as possible. I told her that I would take her drafts and lock them up somewhere safe, so in 10 years when she’s all grown up, I can give them back to her and she can see how far she has come.
A bit later on, I will be doing a Q&A with her about her story, and it will be posted here!