Welcome Dr. Fran Orenstein!

12:00 AM Elizabeth Seckman 22 Comments

I'm off visiting Julie Flanders discussing social work and writing, but this blog is in good hands. I've invited the wise and talented Fran Orenstein to remind us that our writing journeys began before we even knew what a query was.


A FOLD IN TIME
Yesterday I felt as though space had folded in on itself and opened a doorway to the past. Having recently moved across country, I knew from past experience that something always disappears in every move. Sometimes they are replaceable, often they are unimportant, and sometimes you really, really need them. This move I lost years of tax returns. Everyone says they are somewhere and I hope that’s true, but meanwhile every nook, cranny and box is getting checked multiple times. I’m still looking for those tax returns and in reality know they could be in “the box that never arrived”, although why they would be packed with the missing light bulbs, batteries and kitchen utensils is beyond me. 

However, for those of you who have every moved, strange things happen in the midst of chaos and stress.
But I digress, although the search revealed a hidden treasure I never remembered existed. I pulled down a plastic bin from atop a shelf in the closet, ignoring the complaints of my back. It was marked “Kid’s Stuff”, meaning drawings, report cards, greeting cards and anything considered memorabilia of my children’s childhoods. Ready to dismiss this as the location of the sought-after tax returns, I nevertheless pawed through, just in case insanity had attacked during packing.

What I did find was a treasure trove of history…my history…my writing history, saved oh those many, many decades ago by my mother. I found the first poem I had ever written at age eight and a plethora of poems and short stories written between eight and twelve. I even found a copy of the short story I had sent to McCalls magazine at age twelve, about a girl who couldn’t buy a dress for her graduation, called The White Dress, which I thought I had torn up in a pre-adolescent fit of angst when the rejection letter came. Note: That was March. They published a similar story with the same title three months later in June. That, dear readers, was my first foray into the evil side of publishing. If you thought I was angry in March, imagine how I felt in June when that magazine issue arrived on the doorstep.

Reading all the poems, stories, and even the tiny book with illustrations, I felt proud of this little girl who was able to write a plot, use mature language, dialogue with correct structure, and develop characters. It became apparent that I was greatly influenced by books I had read and my poems sounded like book reports for Bambi (the first poems I ever wrote) and The Prince and The Pauper. Younger Fran even made the same typo mistakes Elder Fran makes today…it’s instead of its. At least I’m consistent even after six decades.

I believe that early reading and storytelling with a child is vital to developing an understanding of the structure of books, language usage, content and storyline. My mother was a storyteller, and I wish she had written down the stories she told me. I grew up at the library accompanying my mother on her bi- or tri-weekly trips, for reading was her favorite past-time. I must have also been born with a muse living inside my head that made it easy to imagine and create with language, art, and music.

My children also spent their childhoods from infancy at the library, and all are excellent writers; my daughter’s poems published in her teens and a son writing epic poems and lyrics for his music. My grandchildren were raised with books from infancy, and proud Grandma needs to brag that all but the three-year-old have won poetry and writing contests as pre-teens, been published, and my six-year-old grandson, at age five wrote a Haiku that will soon be published in an anthology of children’s poetry. Watch out for the littlest one, though, he’ll be next as soon as he masters reading and writing.

So for parents out there and potential parents who may be reading this blog, please save your children’s creative pursuits, for you never know long after you have passed when they will open a plastic bin and find their past.

MY FIRST POEM

The Newborn Fawn
By Frances G., age 8

As time went on by the old oak tree,
A fawn was born, a new life to be.
He jumped and played in the meadow all day,
Then at night in the moss he’d lay.
Down well known paths with his mother he’d trod,
Kicking up the grassy sod.

A young, graceful, beautiful doe,
Died under a huntsman’s bow,
When he heard the huntsman’s horn,
Away he fled, a lonely fawn.
Then came the stag Old Prince,
The fawn’s been with him ever since.

To find out all about this fawn,
Read Bambi’s adventures, so forlorn.


Fran Orenstein, Ed.D.                                                         
Author, Poet, Presenter

Fran is a multi-published author. Her latest book, Death in D Minor, is available now from Amazon.

It's a a historical murder mystery.

Behind the doors of Hull House lurk many shadowy secrets of love, anger, betrayal, and death that have haunted the Hull family for generations.

22 comments:

  1. That is an inspirational find. Most of us condemn our early writings. I'm glad you could compliment the child writer and recognize how great the potential was.

    .......dhole

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    1. My mom sent me a booklet full of my scribblings from early junior high. They are not nearly as eloquent as Fran's! So, maybe I am an early condemner!

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  2. I threw out my early writings because they took up space and years after writing them I felt they were crude. This was more than a dozen years ago. Now I wished I had kept them to see the vastness of my progress. Also, nuggets of stories I could be writing and rewriting today were probably in them.

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    1. We can be so hard on ourselves. Every now and then I have to remind myself to give myself credit for how much I have learned and quit kicking myself for not being a prodigy.

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  3. What a wonderful poem for an eight-year-old to have written. Children learn so quickly and reading is neglected so much now. Most of our libraries are closing in England and children are leaving school bereft of reading and writing skills.
    All the best with the sale of 'Death in D Minor', Fran.

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    1. That is sad. Our elementary school had a reading program when my kids were young that rewarded them with trips to the school store for trinkets and such. I'm not sure if they still do it, but it worked for half of my kids. (I have two that are readers and two book loathers...my loathers want to be outside!)

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  4. I still have some poetry I wrote from the ages of 15-22. I wish I had something from a younger age! Those things come in handy once you're published, by the way, because they serve as visual aids when you're speaking to a roomful of aspiring writers. (Especially if you ever speak to a roomful of 8-year-olds!)

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    1. Good thinking! I will have to dive into those boxes my mom sent me. I wrote a lot when I was young and then as a teen, took a bit of a hiatus. I finally hit the age when I started to think about reality and decided being a writer was futile. I didn't feel the tug again until I was post-thirty.

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  5. Good plan indeed, save everything and let them decide what to heave away

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    1. I got caught tossing my kids old treasures and still get guilted for it today. Most definitely better to let them have it all!

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  6. I threw out the writings from when I was young when I was in my 20s. I was going through a stage where I decided to grow up, get a "real" job and "stop with the scribblings." I was despodent then about my writing. I wish hadn't.

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    1. I had the same thinking Damaria. Fortunately, my mother always kept the faith.

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  7. Hi Elizabeth,

    Flippin' heck, I cannot keep up. Now you've gone all prolific in your postings. Help, send me a clone! :)

    Good of you to highlight the author, Fran Orenstein. And no, I didn't start thinking about a book by Marie Shelley. I have kept all my son's scribblings and early art work.

    Gary :)

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    1. I know Gary! I apologize for proliferating your inbox. And no, Fran Orenstein is not the feminine version of that patched together body collectors creation.

      I've kept all of my kids stuff too. Boxes and boxes of it.

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  8. Wow, Fran, you were an old soul at age 8. The poem is beautiful, priceless. I'm glad you found the treasure trove in exchange for some tax returns. I'd say you got a great deal.

    Thanks for spotlighting Fran, Elizabeth.
    Be well.
    xoRobyn

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    1. I think it beats the heck out of tax returns too!

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  9. The poem is wonderful and at eight? You were meant to write. Glad you found those memories and hers to making many more Fran.

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    1. It is very impressive. I still can't write a poem so well.

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  10. I agree, you were meant to write. How wonderful all your children and grandchildren were raised with books. I plan to do the same with my son. He's 3.5 and already reads and makes up stories. :)

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    1. You're raising a genius Christine! Way to go :)

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  11. Aw, I love that. I saved all mu childhood stories and poems too. So much fun to trek down that memory lane. And I save my kids' stuff too. They love talking story with me, and I adore it.
    So glad you found your old writings!!

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    1. I need to dig out my old treasures. Hopefully they are still in good shape. I never did anything profound, I recall there are things like spoofs of TV shows and a few poems about STDs.

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