As most of you know, I was on vacation last week. I intended to post this Tuesday, but when I got back, unpacking from camping, catching up on work and all the stuff I’d neglected before and during vacation, and realizing that deadlines I’d pushed back to the end of summer were now less than two weeks away. All to explain why this post is going up on Friday.
While I didn’t get to go to Realm Makers this year, I did end up in St. Louis, MO on the Monday after Realm Makers. A couple of my friends and I took an awesome week-long road trip to Missouri. And, I still got to revisit one of my writing roots.
The year was 1996. I was six years old when my parents loaded up our old Midas motorhome and took my brothers and me to Missouri.
My dad had read the entire Little House series to us, me curled on his lap listening to the rumble of his voice in Pa’s stories and knowing that I was his Half Pint as much as Laura was Pa’s. We’d already visited the replica of the little cabin in the big woods, though it is now a little cabin surrounded by tiny saplings. I don’t remember if we had visited any other sites by that point. I eventually visited all of the Laura Ingalls Wilder sites, the last one in Independence, KS when I was sixteen.
But on this trip, we were stopping at a Laura Ingalls Wilder site not in the books, yet essential to them. I’m talking about Rocky Ridge Farm in Mansfield, MO, the place where Laura Ingalls Wilder actually wrote the books.
I was six. I was awed in the museum at Pa’s fiddle and a handwritten manuscript. The house was old and huge. The furniture big. The tour boring. I don’t remember anything from most of the house.
But I do remember Laura’s desk. It was big with cubies and space for writing. And there, standing in front of that desk, I made the decision.
I was going to be a published author someday.
The year is now 2015. Nineteen years have passed since I saw that house in Mansfield. Seeing things as an adult is both the same and different.
The wonder at seeing Pa’s fiddle is still the same. Pa’s voice in my head is still my dad’s. I’m still my dad’s Half Pint.
The house is different. It’s smaller. I actually remember the tour through the rest of the house. This time, I see the people and their lives, not just the author and her books.
Laura Ingalls Wilder is smaller. I’m actually taller than her (by a whole inch, but I’m still taller).
And the desk is smaller. My own desk at home could swallow it. It doesn’t look like something big enough to start off a little girl’s hopes and dreams.
Still, I choked up standing there. At six, I’d stood there and decided I was going to be a published author. Nineteen years later, I stood there a couple months after my first book released. A surreal moment.
Nineteen years. A longer road to publication than my six-year-old self could’ve comprehended. I’d thought I’d be published by sixteen or eighteen at the latest (because eighteen year olds are so old when you’re six).
Have you ever read the Little House books? What memories do they bring up?
Do you have a specific memory of the day you knew you wanted to be a published author?