Blogs by Deanie Humphrys-Dunne
How was Tails of Sweetbrier Created?
8/27/2011 6:15:58 AM
Hints and ideas about why I wrote Tails of Sweetbrier.
The last time we talked, we discussed ideas and suggestions for writing children’s fiction. I hope those insights were helpful to you. Today, we’re going to investigate how I wrote my first book, Tails of Sweetbrier. It’s an autobiography, so I approached the project differently than when I wrote Charlene the Star and Charlie the Horse.
How would I begin Tails of Sweetbrier? I wanted something that would catch my young reader’s attention; something to peak his/or interest. Otherwise, he/she would quickly lose interest. Here is the opening to my story:
“Have you ever really wanted to be able to do something, but you came across a road block of some sort? Maybe you’re afraid of new things, or maybe you have a physical challenge. Are you going to follow your dream, or push it aside without really trying? You have to make a difficult choice. I made that choice and it changed my whole life, by giving me experiences I never would have had if I took the easy street and had not tried. You have to make a difficult choice. I made that choice and it changed my whole life, by giving me experiences I never would have had if I took the easy street and had not tried.”
Throughout Tails of Sweetbrier, I continued to ask questions to draw the reader into the story. In addition, I revealed my thoughts often so the reader would feel connected to my journey. For example, when I was first learning to walk, at four years of age, I wrote this thought:
“Now I fit in. I don’t feel like Kermit when he said, “It ain’t easy bein’ green.” I felt like other kids because the world looked entirely different now that I wasn’t crawling everywhere.
I had difficult time writing about one chapter in particular. It was called “Fire” and it detailed a fire we had in the barn. Why would I want to include this chapter? What would it bring to the story? Two cherished horses were killed. The heat of the fire was too intense for my dad to open the stall doors to rescue them. My mom’s pony, Chiefie, was one of the victims. She adored him. Once he had an abscess in his throat and she stayed up all night medicating him until he recovered. After the fire I pondered:”Will we always suffer this sadness? Will we rebuild? Will we have the courage to start again?” At first, I considered omitting it. But I thought it was important for children to learn that sad events can be overcome. We can still recover from them. Since we were always taught “The Humphrys don’t give up”, we did rebuild and our farm prospered for many years after the fire occurred. It was another chance to show my readers how important it is to persevere.
When I was writing the chapter called, “The Next Big Decision” I wanted to convince my dad to teach me to jump horses. He wasn’t in favor of teaching me because he knew I’d fall of many times in the process. So I formulated a plan. I wrote:
“I started building my case, like someone facing a jury for the first time.”
When my dad didn’t embrace the idea immediately, I made him relent with this statement:
“But Daddy, remember you always said I could do anything I wanted, if I tried. You even taught a blind person to jump, so if he can do it why can’t I?”
At that point, I knew he had no defense and I’d be able to learn to jump. It took many years, but I was able to compete successfully in major horse shows around the Northeast.
I close Tails of Sweetbrier with this sentiment:
“You have the power to make your dreams come true so reach for them and don’t accept anything less.”
This statement captures the message of the story, that anything is possible if you persevere. I hope you enjoyed taking this journey into creating Tails of Sweetbrier with me.
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