ABC’s and Writing

What’s in Mrs.Hale’s receipts for the Million 1857?

If you have children who are learning to write, buy coarse white paper by the quantity, and keep it locked up, ready to be made into writing-books.  It does not cost half so much as it does to buy them at the stationer’s.

Mrs. Hale understood the importance of reading and writing.  Her philosophy was that economy shouldn’t interfere in the search of learning, so save what you can and make do.  In place of a notebook, I’ve made a copy book or two in my time.  Image086It brings out the writer in me.  I sew the pages, then sew words together.

I’ve always been fascinated with schooling and how in our country’s history, getting a education was so important. It made a scholar a coming man or woman. In Sudbury, MA, Mary had her little lamb. In the 1870s and 1880s scholars in the Pacific Northwest forests packed salmon sandwiches in lard pails and went to school three months in the winter and three in the summer. Eighth grade tests for passing were so hard, that I challenge a high school student to pass what they were asking in math back then. Or in reading.  Reading circles anyone?

Hawaiin AlphabetIn Hawaii, an oral tradition of story telling received its first alphabet in 1825 with the publication of a little ABC book created by missionaries. Soon books, Bibles, case law, newspapers, were in Hawaiian. By the end of the decade more Hawaiians could read in their own language than in New England, the bedrock of literacy in our little nation.  Remember, Hawaii was a kingdom then.  Not American.

Of course, what does this have to do with being in Hawaii and attending a writer’s conference? I think somewhere back, we all started out as writers, learning to write, like I did, in Mrs. Page’s first grade classroom in Washington D.C. . Once we learned the beauty of letters and how they were shaped and carried sound, we learned to put them together in words.  Somewhere along the way, they became story.  Royal hawaii hotelA poem. Or a novel.

Tomorrow, I will be helping  writers have a successful experience at a very good conference and in volunteering, meet other writers.  It will start in the lovely Hawaiian way with dancing and chanting from a hula hulau. After that, I’ll take my ABCs and put down words in my copy book from what I’ve learned and create, revise and rewrite. Then I’ll find an agent.

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