Sunday, August 11, 2013

From Dreamer To Writer To Award Winner

It always starts with a dream ...

And then with a pencil, pen, marker, chisel, awl, crayon, wet finger on dry wood,
chalk on blackboard ...

It begins some where on some thing ...

Now let's speak about the lovely smiling writer, Frances Bonney Jenner, who was recently awarded a Bronze Medal for Juvenile Fiction by Independent Book Awards and a Silver Medal from the Colorado Independent Book Awards in the Juvenile and Young Adult category.

Let's mention her dream -- to tell the story of a young girl going West in a covered wagon. This was her dream as a writer and she wrote it by hand at first, then by PC, then by hand again, then by PC, and so on and so forth for six years until she had the story down. It's a story you want to read because of the voice of the narrator. And that narrator stands before you holding her book because after much travail -- and, literally, travel on the road her ancestors took to the goldfields of California. Yes, she camped, this author did, on the trail, not once but several times that her family followed in the long ago. And, then, in the writing, she made that long ago seem not so long ago, so that the reader is there, right there in the dust and the sun and the sickness and betrayal and river crossings and hungry longing for home, any home, anything but the trail going West.

For me, as witness to Fran's triumph in prose and verse (the book is made up of both), the book has special meaning. And maybe that can be summed by poet Gene Fowler: "Writing is easy: all you do is sit staring at a blank sheet of paper until the drops of blood form on your forehead." My father used to say, "If it were easy any damn fool could do it."

Well, now lots of damn fools are out there trying, and I have to admire them for that. No doubt they are all equally good at the dreaming part, the pencil part, the typing at keys part. But as author Andrew Lam (Saving Sight) recently wrote about writing, "It is not a sprint. It is a marathon."

That is why we take our hat off to Fran Jenner. She may be wearing a medal around her neck, but she's still running. There she goes round the bend of the 25th mile. Read her wonderful book, Prairie Journey which is about writing, and life, and a lovely girl named Savannah who learns about these things on the California Trail in 1850.