The Seeds of Childhood – Part 2

Jean Little. Photo from

I didn’t plan a part 2 when I wrote last week’s blog, but the idea wouldn’t stay quiet. A magnet in my gut pulled me to the computer to publish a poem I’d written as a kid. I think I was in grade 7, though I may have been younger. I’ve always carried this poem in my mind, and some time earlier this year I found it.

Ahem…here it goes (typos included):

Friends Are Forever

Friends are forever,
Well, most anyway,
Always loving and caring,
And with whom we do play.

I may cry,
And I may weep,
But friends they are;
And friends I keep.

There are different kinds of friends;
Tall friends, short friends,
Girl friends, boy friends,
Funny friends and crazy friends:
But most of all –
Best friends.

Daring to Write Jean Little

You can tell I prioritized rhyming over meaning, but I commend myself for the effort. (Pats young self on back.) I remember actually reworking this poem several times on a typewriter at my dad’s business. I thought it was so great, I even entered it in a contest. (Didn’t win.)

Turns out I produced a lot when I was 12. I was apparently so focused on writing and learning how to write well that I wrote a fan letter to my favourite childhood author, Jean Little. I had read all of her books that were available then. She’s still publishing now*, and I read a recent book a few months ago. I never tire of her work.

I didn’t save a copy of the letter, so I can only surmise that I asked a bunch of questions, because she wrote a bunch of answers. This I do know, though: I clearly wanted the easy answer to becoming a successful writer.

While I’d love to put the whole letter up here, it was actually very personal, and I’d feel like Judas if I published it on the web. But I think I can share this piece of advice from her:

“You want suggestions for things that would be ‘easy’ to write about. Good writing, Lori, is not easy. It is challenging, fun, exciting, hard work, satisfying, maddening but never, ever easy. […] Poetry is worth working at. What triumph is there in doing something that’s so simple it takes no effort? You want to be proud of what you write, don’t you? Then be ready to give it your best.”

It was a two-page letter. I was thrilled to read it then, and I’m more thrilled to read it now.

The reason I’ve posted this is to reconnect to my main point last week: it’s perfectly okay to temper our childhood loves with adult wisdom (not criticism). So I’m going to take another crack at that poem. Given all the work I put in to it over 20 years ago, I feel it deserves adult tempering. I’m then going to post it here. I don’t know when exactly, but I promise to do it before my birthday, which I’m of course not going publicize. It’s not soon, though, hence choosing that date.

If you find some art from your childhood that you’d like to share, post it on your blog and feel free to link to it in the comments section below. Then, if you’re up to it, rework it, see what comes of it, and let the rest of us know about it.

(Ms. Little wrote in my letter that she was actually going to keep my letter. If anyone knows her really well, do you mind asking if she still has it? I’d like to know what I wrote! Message me first for my maiden name, though.)

*Update April 7, 2020: Jean Little passed away yesterday.

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