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How My Mom Helped Me Become an Author at Age 17


Happy Mother’s Day! Today is the day Moms are pulled from the cocoon of sleep for burnt toast and soggy cereal. Crayon squiggles are offered in exchange for everything they do all year. And wow, is it a lot: playing, cooking, organizing, loving, healing, and so much more.

But my mother has done one thing most have not. She has helped me become an author at 17. (My novel, Insomnus, is scheduled to be published this summer.) Here’s how.

She instilled a love of reading in me. This is probably the biggest thing that inspired me to want to write (and equipped me with the tools to do so).

Before bed, when I was little, we would have story time, which was one of the most exciting things for my pint-sized self. Every so often, as a treat, we got to go to the Red Balloon Bookstore in St. Paul and then get chocolate croissants at Bread and Chocolate. Since there was nothing better than chocolate croissants as a kid (and even as a teen), going to the book store was one of the things I looked forward to the most.

This love of reading became a love for writing as I became increasingly interested in making my own novel. I wanted to be on bookstore shelves and be able to read the story taking form in my head. Mostly, I wanted to have children search excitedly through the shelves, pick up my book, and decide to buy it to fuel their passion for reading, like I had done when I was their age.

I was surrounded by books growing up. In our living room we have three bookcases overflowing with precarious stacks of literature. We also got library cards and went there so often I had trouble finding books I hadn’t read. Whenever I was bored, the first suggestion was always to get a book, I got gift cards for books for holidays, and I got lots of books as gifts. Since books were everywhere, I read a lot. In the car, on trips, over the summer, when I was bored, and just because. Being exposed to lots of different books gave me inspiration as well as a foundation of knowledge as a writer.

Mom was my editor and cheerleader and beta reader. 

For every writing project I have done for school, Mom has proofread it before I turned it in. When I started writing my novel, she was the first one to read the half-done manuscript when I got stuck and had no idea how to end it. We talked through how to make it better and ways I could finish it until the story became unstuck and I finished the first draft.

Part of the reason I finished was because I knew she was always waiting for the next installment. I would write a chapter, then give it to her, so the faster I wrote, the faster she got to find out what I had chosen for the ending. This also helped me keep each chapter leaving the reader wanting to read more since I always wanted to end at a place where Mom would be excited to keep reading.

When I got stuck while writing, we would brainstorm ideas to keep going. When I was all done, we figured out how to rework the ending so it was better. Then, Mom was the first one to proof-read it so it was presentable for the critique group I had joined, and later, for other beta readers, like my grandmother and friends.

Of course there are thousands of other things my mom has done to help me get to this point in life (like feeding me delicious food so I don’t starve), but these are a couple that have been crucial. Hope you enjoyed this post. If you did, please share it on social media and follow my blog.

What has your mom helped you do and how? Comment below.

If you are a teen writer, too, check out my post 10 Tips for Teen Writers.

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