Don’t Judge a Book By Its Title!

So I’m currently reading Watership Down. I’m only a little bit into it, but so far I like it. It reminds me of the Redwall books.

But I have a very embarrassing confession to make….



Before I read it, I knew it was about rabbits, but I ummm…thought it was set on a submarine. Okay, go ahead and laugh, but what else was I supposed to think about a book called WaterSHIP Down? I originally thought it was about a ship that sinks, but then I heard someone say it was a social commentary on WWII or the Cold War (I don’t remember which), so I thought, “Oh, maybe the ship is already down, so it’s about rabbits on a submarine!”

For those who don’t know, a “down” is a type of English countryside and just like the British give places weird names like “Newcastle Upon Tyne” and “Bath”, there is an actual place called “Watership Down”. So yes, I feel silly.

Watership Down in England (We're NOT on a boat...)

The Veggie Tales' Grapes of Wrath video

However, this isn’t the first time I’ve made this mistake. For years, I thought The Catcher and the Rye must be some Steinbeck-esque story about farmers trying to make ends meet in the Dust Bowl. Don’t worry, I never thought Grapes of Wrath had anything to do with anthropomorphized grapes (that was only true in the Veggie Tales version).

On a more serious note, I made this mistake when I was fifteen and picked up a book at the library called Writing Books For Children. I misunderstood and believed it was a book teaching kids how to write books, not a book on how to write children’s books! Talk about wishful thinking!

But just picture me–a teenager in the middle of revising my first novel and devouring writing advice books left and right. They all talk about how to juggle being a  writer and a stay-at-home mom. I really wanted a book written for someone like me, but there wasn’t anything out there. The skinny little paperback was still immensely useful, but it wasn’t written for me. It was such an obscure book, I can’t actually find a picture of it on google and my own copy is in storage, so sorry that this is a sadly image-less post.

Because of this experience, though, it’s one of my goals to someday write a book for kids about how to get started as writers. A book for the big dreamers like me who ask serious questions: Will literary agents sign a minor? What if I don’t want to write for kids? How can I find time for writing when I’m swamped with homework? Should I let my parents read my writing?

THIS! I wish I'd had sites like this when I was younger!

Most people don’t realize that high school is the perfect time to start your writing career. You have teachers forcing you to do creative writing assignments, summers without the pressure to get a job, and everyone is all sweetly condescending like “Awww, look at the child prodigy!”  (Yes, this is a good thing. Later in life everyone will treat you as a starving artist. Take advantage of the positive attitudes while you can!) There are a lot of challenges with being a young writer, but far too many adults brush them off saying, “You have plenty of time to learn all that.” I want to be the adult who talks straight to these kids because I’ve been there.

P.S. Best thing about reading Watership Down as an audiobook? I can pronounce all those rabbit language words correctly 🙂

Why, what a fine Hrududu you have there, sir!


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