I'm generally pretty reserved about sharing my publication aspirations here, but when I have, readers have responded. I'm also trying to push out of my comfort zone. Today I'll talk about how one specific trip has impacted me as a writer.
Back in the late nineties, I traveled to Niger, West Africa. While each of my travels has changed me or helped me grow, my interactions with children in a village outside Niamey, touched me in a deep and meaningful way. All these years later I can conjure up vivid images of my interactions without ever looking at a photo.
I used those strong emotional connections to write a fictional picture book manuscript about a young American boy who's traveling in Niger with his father. (Note: I have a notoriously hard time thinking of titles for my stories. I LOVE the title of this one, so I won't share it. I don't want anyone to steal it!)
|The walk to the plateaus outside Niamey, Niger.|
Did the plot of this story happen to me? No. It's fiction. But the feelings and some of the events did. For starters, I was overwhelmed by the lack of water. Until then, all of my travels had been to places with sufficient (or even too much) water. I never appreciated my sweat until that trip. (It really does cool you!) So it seems natural to me that I would write a story about yearning for rain.
Did I meet local children? Yes. It's impossible not to when you're the only white people for miles and everyone stares at you. Kids run up to you out of curiosity. I also had some lovely interactions with children in a village on the way to the plateaus outside Niamey.
|View from the top.|
How about you? Are you a writer? How do your experiences influence your writing? Parents and teachers, how do you help your students use their experiences to inform their writing?
One funny aside: While I was in Washington, DC last week, I ran into a guy I had met in Niger all those years ago (Hi Djimrao!). I couldn't believe it. The world really is small.
Haying Experiences Turned into a Picture Book Manuscript
Adoption Insensitivity (Inspirations for another manuscript)