Changes of Life

YOUNG ADULT-CHILDREN: For writers of all genre who want to write, and the readers who love them. Find what you want to know.

The only difference between a writer and someone who wants to be a writer is discipline.
– Ayelet Waldman

A writer needs three things, experience, observation, and imagination, any two of which, at times any one of which, can supply the lack of the others.
– William Faulkner

It is the writer who might catch the imagination of young people, and plant a seed that will flower and come to fruition.
– Isaaac Asimov

When I was a little boy, they called me a liar, but now that I’m grown up, they call me a writer.
– Isaac Singer

The great art of writing is knowing when to stop.
– Josh Billings

I don’t want to write for adults.  I want to write for readers who can perform miracles.  Only children perform miracles when they read.
– Astrid Lindgren

Most new writers think it’s easy to write for children, but it’s not.  You have to get in a beginning, middle and end, tell a great story, write well, not be condescending — all in a few pages.
– Andrea Brown

Changes of Life

by Elisa Berman – age 15

The car collected $200 as it passed go. I could hear the car’s engine zooming around the board. Well, I almost heard it. I was playing monopoly with my brother. I just starred at him thinking how great life is, how great spring break was going to be, and how great summer would be. I was absolutely loving life for the first time in a long time.

As you know monopoly is a long game. My family and I had about 5 or 6 hours till we had to go to the Northeast to my uncles house for Passover dinner. My brother and I were excited because we were going to see our aunts mother and son, whom we don’t see too often. Monopoly was the best idea we had to keep us busy for all that time.

Unfortunately we didn’t get too far into the Monopoly. When the phone rang it interrupted my second turn. I was sitting next to the phone, so I picked it up. I didn’t even have a chance to finish saying hello before I heard my grandmothers voice. In a sad voice she said “Elisa put your mother on the phone.” I could tell by the tone in her voice something was wrong, so I handed the phone right to my mother. She didn’t have to tell me what was wrong. In the short time they were on the phone, I put all the pieces together. My grandmother was at the Saunder’s house (the nursing home my grandfather was in) visiting my grandfather. There was only one thing that would upset her that much. It was the one thing everyone dreaded.

My grandfather had passed away. He had been sick for a long time. As a matter of fact he had been sick all my life. It wasn’t till about 3 or 4 years ago that it became so serious. He has been in and out of the hospital over those last few years. My family and I visited him almost everyday of every time he was in the hospital. Even though my family was expecting this, it struck us so suddenly. My grandmother was with him when he passed away. She was hanging up the phone with my mother when she saw him take his last breath. She didn’t know it was his last breath till after she turned back around and he wasn’t breathing at all. She ran down the hallway to find a nurse. Once the nurse confirmed it, my grandmother got right on the phone to call my mom and uncle.

I had loved my grandfather dearly. I wanted everyone to know how much I loved my grandfather, so the night before the funeral I wrote something to say at the funeral. When I stood up to make the speech many of the funeral attenders were surprised. Ever since I was little I had been a quiet, shy girl. I didn’t actually talk much at all to anybody I didn’t know very well. That had changed.

It’s funny the way things work sometimes. The doctors predicted he wouldn’t survive the weekend on Friday, March 2, 2001. My dad’s birthday was March 5. My grandfather’s birthday was March 30. My mom’s birthday was April 1. My birthday was April 3. My grandparent’s anniversary was April 4. My grandfather passed away Saturday, April 7, 2001, the first day of the ten days of spring break. It was amazing how he waited for all these birthdays including one last for him and one last anniversary with my grandmother to pass before he passed away.

My grandfather passing away affected more than friends and family. Four days before my grandfather passed away I finished my favorite class with my favorite teacher out of my ten years of school. I had this class 3rd quarter. I had Miss Erb for theater. This class was an introduction into acting. Not only does Miss Erb teach acting, but she has been in several plays. She is a very good actress. She taught this class well for her first year of teaching. When this class started I would stand up in front of my fellow class mates frozen, unable to get any words to come out. At the end of this class I still wasn’t good at doing anything in front of people, but I had more confidence, and I didn’t dread it as much. I wasn’t that shy, quiet girl anymore.

When I try to remember as far back as I can I remember helping my grandfather walk to where ever he was trying to go. He was blind and had trouble with his legs, so he always needed help. This past summer before he went into the nursing home permanently I was too lazy to help him. I always pushed helping my grandfather onto my brother. After he passed away I was thinking about how selfish I was by not helping. I felt so guilty, but there was nothing I could do to change what I had done. This is when I realized small things do matter in life.

These ten days were the hardest ten days of my life. My grandfather’s funeral was three days after he passed away because Passover interfered. On Sunday my parents, grandmother, uncle, and aunt made the arrangements for the funeral. Since the funeral was grave side, the immediate family was given a chance to see my grandfather one last time. Both my brother and I wanted to see my grandfather one last time, so the seven of us headed up to the funeral home. When I saw him it looked like he was bones covered by skin. He didn’t look like the same guy who watched me grow my hole life. I was holding my brother when I noticed he looked a little pale, so I told my dad. My dad took him out side to get some fresh air, but on the way out I saw him fall to the ground. He had been so upset over my grandfather he fainted. The day after we saw my grandfather was the funeral. We spent the night of the funeral and the next two day sitting Shiva. The next four days we spent trying to start getting use to not visiting him in the nursing home or hospital. Every time I walked into my grandmother’s house I walk over to the chair he sat in all the time, but he isn’t there.

I had survived the entire spring break and I was glad to be back in school. As glad as I was to be back in school, I wasn’t happy. I know it is normal to be sad when someone close to you passes away, but I was upset about something else also. All my friends told me how sorry they were to hear about my grandfather, but that didn’t make me feel better. I told my best friend Renee about how Miss Erb helped me. She had Miss Erb for theater first quarter. As I was telling Renee about how Miss Erb helped me I realized I was telling the wrong person. I should be telling Miss Erb how I felt.

This day is one I will never forget. Miss Erb’s first block was next door to my first block class. I walked in the classroom and asked to speak to her privately. I told her about my grandfather passing away over spring break. I told her about the speech and how I couldn’t have done it, if she hadn’t taught theater as well as she did. As I told this to Miss Erb I could feel the wet tears falling down my face. Her eyes were filled with tears. She looked like she was about to cry. When I looked at her face I could tell she understood what I was telling her. She told me how much this meant to her.

I didn’t know if Miss Erb would care or not that she helped me, but it was worth it to take a chance. One thing I learned from my grandfather passing away was little things do matter in life. This was a little chance to take, but since she did care it became bigger than I had thought. Everytime I see Miss Erb I think of the wonderful man my grandfather was. I will always be grateful for her helping me. I will never forget her.

In Loving Memory of David Daroff: (1925-2001)
by Elisa Berman – age 15

Appreciated Words

YOUNG ADULT-CHILDREN: For writers of all genre who want to write, and the readers who love them. Find what you want to know.

The only difference between a writer and someone who wants to be a writer is discipline.
– Ayelet Waldman

A writer needs three things, experience, observation, and imagination, any two of which, at times any one of which, can supply the lack of the others.
– William Faulkner

It is the writer who might catch the imagination of young people, and plant a seed that will flower and come to fruition.
– Isaaac Asimov

When I was a little boy, they called me a liar, but now that I’m grown up, they call me a writer.
– Isaac Singer

The great art of writing is knowing when to stop.
– Josh Billings

I don’t want to write for adults.  I want to write for readers who can perform miracles.  Only children perform miracles when they read.
– Astrid Lindgren

Most new writers think it’s easy to write for children, but it’s not.  You have to get in a beginning, middle and end, tell a great story, write well, not be condescending — all in a few pages.
– Andrea Brown

Appreciated Words

by Christina Marples – age 15

Famous authors may pretend to know how lucky they are, but do they really? Do they understand the desperate desires of others, like myself, who just want other people to read the words that were strung together so delicately by themselves? They can’t understand. Not anymore. Their ability to do that ended a long time ago. It ended that moment when a person walked into a bookshop and bought their book. That person was willing to read that author’s delicately strung together words and yet it is possible that the person who first bought the book did not appreciate just where that story came from. But one day someone did.

There’s always a little ‘bookworm’ amongst groups of people. There are the screaming three-year-olds with the one in the corner who could be seen reading an early edition of ‘Cinderella’. Or the boy-struck teenage girls with one who reads ‘The Lord of the Rings’ at slumber parties. It’s one of these odd ones who grew to notice books in a very different way.

The girl, of whom I speak, shall remain nameless for a name would be unnecessary. From a very young age the girl had loved stories. The number of places she could visit in her mind, when a story was read to her was what she loved. A Queen’s castle; a house that never existed; a meadow full of prancing ponies. The number of journeys she could experience when a story was read to her increased her love for them more. Through a wardrobe; flying on a broomstick or even meeting wolves. But all of these things, and more, increased when she read a story to herself.

And so the girl read. And she read…and she read. Her collections of children’s stories became somewhat amazingly close to the collections in large libraries and it wasn’t until the age of twelve that the girl’s love for ‘children’s stories’ started to cease. Thicker volumes began to appear on her bedroom shelves until they groaned under the weight. All of these were read several times until the pages were slightly frayed and the spines becoming detached. They were read at school, in the park or at any available opportunity or in any place that provided a place to sit.

Reading soon became one of the girl’s favorite things to do but, even after reading the hundreds of books she had done already, she felt there was something missing. She enjoyed them enough but still something was missing – still missing…

The girl entered her third year at High School and couldn’t help but give in to the spark that disturbed her mind about her future. All teachers talked about were future careers. What would she do? ‘Play to your strengths’…She had read that in a book. In fact, it was the very book that finally helped to explain that ‘missing something’.

Her mother had come home one day with a book. The girl had heard of it before but had never really considered reading it until she skimmed the first line, on the very first page. The words were so simple and yet the moment she had read them, something had awoken in the back of her mind. The story was by far the best she had ever read in her life and from those few words at the start right to the last line, she had been hooked. It was a genre she had had very brief encounters with but to this day, she doesn’t tend to read anything else – except fantasy stories. There was something about them that compelled her imagination and sent her plunging into the minds of the authors. The book her mother had come home with had been no exception.

She learned great many things from that book. It had taught her that there was an awful lot more to reading stories and it was at this point that she stopped to consider the writing. She lay in bed one night reading that book when she stopped and thought just how much effort the author had put into this story. Books came from inside people’s minds, didn’t they? So when you’re reading a book you must be…sort of reading a person’s thoughts and feelings. It was this idea that she clung to with every story that she ever read and she knew she’d never forget it and knew if it hadn’t been for that book her mother had brought home she would never have even thought of it.

The girl almost felt as if she wanted to thank the clever woman who had written that story (and the ones that followed). To thank her for helping the girl to understand the meaning of writing and why exactly people did it. She knew what her ambition would be. To write a book. To write her very own story that came from inside her own head and that other people everywhere would read.

So there was a person who understood the ‘delicately strung together words’ written by people all over the world and who knows, maybe there are others. However, the girl never forgot what she’d learned from books and I know this for a fact. I know this for a fact because the girl was me. One day you will read a book with my name on the front and you too can try and learn exactly what books are about – in exactly the same way I did.

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