Week Eight - Writing for Children and Teens

From Inspiration to Publication

Insecurity vs. Determination - Who Will Win?


July 26, 2016



I remember reading about Julia Child’s first weeks at cooking school in Paris. The chef laughed at her because she couldn’t slice an onion. She herself couldn’t believe she didn’t know how to properly slice an onion. On her way home, she bought a huge bag of onions. Back in her kitchen, she sharpened her chopping knife and cut onions over and over until she could slice an onion exactly as her teacher expected. She felt inadequate, but knew it wasn’t impossible.

I need a bag of onions.

This week I feel confused about what will make my writing better. I’m unsure about whether my writing is good at all. Quite frankly, I’m wondering if I should have even started this course.

I’m scared that I’ll find out I won’t get better. I walk from room to room trying to think of something to do to help move me into action instead of self-pity. Wanting to be a good writer isn’t enough. I know I must write and take risks like letting others read my writing. My instructor, for example, reads my work and wants me to cut out at least 20% of my words. When he suggests I select my words more carefully it feels like he’s telling me he thinks I don’t understand what some words even mean.

I pace.

My solution? I find people who love me and ask them what they think. They say I’m right which is exactly what I want to hear. They’re good friends who want me to be happy, but I know I must push through. I know this is part of the process. I take out my writing notebook and write an arc for a story that isn’t working. There, I think, I can too write. But my heart is not at peace and my stomach is bothering me. I’m avoiding working on something that feels too difficult.

Again I consider the possibility of quitting.

Misery isn’t productive, but I’m not sure how to move forward. I remember that I want to write a nonfiction piece. I’ve been excited about this story for several months and I think now is the time to research and try again. I believe this is what’s called getting back in the saddle or back on the horse or something else cowboy-related.


I take out one of ICL’s resource books I received with my course materials, Searching: A Research Guide for Writers. Reading the first chapter feels like a step in the right direction. I learn how to find facts to support and explain the topic I’ve chosen. The more I read, the more I can’t wait to learn more. It is a slow path to recovery from the damage my insecurity has done.

Remembering Julia Child’s determination, I remind myself I must keep writing and revising and reworking if I want this to happen.

I might cry.

I might feel inadequate.

But I know that it is not impossible for me to write well. Writing is a learned skill. My brain is interesting. I think in fantastically different ways. I really do! But, I have not put in the time it takes to become an excellent writer––yet.

Do you know what Marginalia is? It is the notes that people write about their thinking found in the margins of a text. I love to buy used books in which the previous owner has written in the margins. "Remember this!" might be scrawled and, if they didn’t underline a part, I try to figure out which part the reader wished to remember. Interacting with text has always played a critical part in my life.

I am a reader. I remember so much of what I read.

Writing has not played as large a role in my life––until now. It’s only in the past year that I’ve begun to make writing a daily priority. This blog at ICL is my writing marginalia for this course. This is where I write about my reading and writing. This is where I think it through and process how it feels.

I am scared.

I am reaching out to find the next hold that will keep me climbing. Last night I agonized over how to get over my fear of failure. Instead of giving myself the out, I gave myself the in. Go back to it, I told myself––write about it. This the part of life where I must act as if until it becomes real, right? I both curse and bless myself for writing these blog posts because now you will all see my conflict. This is the inner conflict that controls me if I let it, but I won’t. I plan to cut my words and find more precise vocabulary. I intend to use what I’m learning in this course in the hopes that I become a stronger writer who is capable of seeing what needs to be revised. I want to find a way to write the words that show my voice and my style and my thinking.

I believe it is possible, I just need to buy another bag of onions and sharpen my knife.

Kimberley Moran's site

Kimberley Moran is a gifted and talented teacher and freelance writer who lives in Hampden, Maine. She has two children and one very nice husband. Kimberley would like her bio to make her sound brilliant, witty, and kind because she knows that when you write and read you get to be anyone you want to be.


Kimberley Moran
August 5, 2016

I love all your comments! Julia Childs' story resonates with me because she started cooking later in life and that's pretty much what she is known for. This gives me great hope.

Loralee Druart
July 27, 2016

It is wonderful that you shared your inner thoughts! You are genuine, and I love your persistence and optimism! I like how you connected it to the story of the onions (and I plan to share this with my daughter who is learning a new position in volleyball after years in another). Practice, practice, practice.

Carol Varsalona
July 27, 2016

Kimberly, first of all, it is wonderful that you wrote this piece about your conflicting thoughts. Being vulnerable is a step to unveiling who you are in the wake of writing. These words ring true: "I remind myself I must keep writing and revising and reworking if I want this to happen." Onward and upward!

July 26, 2016

Thank you for sharing your doubts and insecurities, and your determination to push through them! I think the lows are a natural part of the creative process; it's your mind's way of striving for excellence. Looking forward to reading more about what you are learning!

July 26, 2016

i feel like i should be nervous too because i really dont think what i am saying is things that people are interested in, but if i keep networking, the more people respond. but i just keep trying out different topics and see which get the most hits, and that helps me judge what people are interested in

July 26, 2016

That's it, keep writing! And share your words with a supportive community, as you have done! And read good writing, then try yourself what those writers do! And above all, write how YOU write -- not how your professor or your friends or your boss thinks you should write, but the way that only YOU can write. Because writing is you, in words! -- Jennifer (ihabloespanglish.blogspot.com)

July 26, 2016

I think writing is an act of courage - and I love the way you share your writing journey. With your honesty, you are showing us the way.

Margaret Simon
July 26, 2016

I need a bag of onions, too. And pass me the sharpened knife. Whenever my mother-in-law would cluck about her cooking, as all of us do, my brother-in-law passed her a knife and said, "Just do it now." But we can't go around killing ourselves over every little thing that gets in the way of the thing we want. Keep at it. You are good. But even if you aren't a good writer (according to you know who), you are one determined girl. You'll make it through and shine brighter for it.

July 26, 2016

I know this feeling so well!! You expressed yourself so honestly in this piece. Writing is a form of art, and in that, we, the writers, are sort of suffering artists, too. I struggle every day with my writing ... what takes 60 seconds to read, can very well take 2 weeks to write! I think your writing is captivating and I hope that you keep doing it!!

Joanne Toft
July 26, 2016

oh the fears that come with writing! I have been in the same place for days. Walking my house, garden, neighborhood but afraid to dig into the changes my writing group suggested. They were great ideas, I agree with them but yet I am fearful. Like you I must dig in and quit going out (for the walk!) Thanks for the post I needed that.

Sarah E Parker
July 26, 2016

All of these insecurities found a home in my heart today. They spoke to me directly about where writing puts you no matter how many years you have written. It is painful. It is uncertain. It feels empty, until its full. The onion was a great representation for the importance of practice. I also appreciate your mention of the research writing text you are using. It may be just what I need to help me with my research about my writing. Thanks for putting yourself out there. It inspires!

July 26, 2016

This is a very powerful piece that reflects how we all feel. I didn't know that about Julia Child and I thank you for sharing this.

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