by Sue Chehrenegar
As a children’s writer, Emily Lockhart can relate to the thinking of children. When interviewed by a reporter from the Los Angeles Times, she shared memories of her own childhood, of a time when she did not feel pushed to take life seriously. Later, like so many of the youth that pass-through the age of adolescence, Lockhart experienced an awareness of increased freedoms. For a time, she relished those new-found freedoms. Then, as she grew older, she began to take view life more seriously.
Lockhart’s altered pattern of thinking copied that of many younger adults. It provoked thoughts that focused on the meaning of life. Her mind had become attuned to such thoughts by the age of 17, when she realized that people did not see her as someone who was capable of challenging their own thoughts and actions. Consequently, she felt decidedly underrated and wanted to add some meaningfulness to her existence.
At that point, Lockhart began to lose interest in those things that had been providing her with intermittent periods of joy. Such actions included the application of make-up, while staring into a mirror, the refusal to abide by specific codes of conduct and the willingness to give-in to less-than-virtuous behavior. Lockhart realized that by choosing to pursue such actions, she allowed adults to view her as someone who is a tad silly, maybe even close to incompetent. Hence, she wanted to fill her life with greater substance/more meaning.
At that point, the acquisition of added substance became her goal, one that she went-after while in college and graduate school. Eventually, she did get people to give serious consideration to what she had to say. Moreover, as that change took-place, she found that she was treated with a greater amount of respect. Still, she did not appreciate the degree to which she had to deal with on-going competition from others in academia, in order to retain the level of respect that she then enjoyed.
Lockhart’s observations pushed re-think the wisdom of copying the pattern that had been adopted by her associates. She decided to have-a-try at the craft of writing for children. She even managed to get some of her writing published. However, it was not long before she discovered that within academia, a writer of children’s literature did not enjoy an appreciable amount of status.
She found that within the highest echelons of academia, people tend to be serious on an almost continual basis. Their attention seldom turns to subjects that do not fall-in-line with the stated ideals of the most respected members of academia. Yet Lockhart did not view that approach to life as one that she could use, in order to make her existence more meaningful. That was why she chose to follow her own path, as opposed to the one that had been presented to her those with whom she had been interacting.
She chose to retain what she viewed as the most meaningful aspect of her life, and she did that by seeking to excel in a discipline that gave her great pleasure. That was the craft that required development of writing skills, particularly the skills of a children’s author. Contrary to any advice she may have received from others, Lockhart’s choice did not deprive her life of meaning. She has authored books that young people read and loved.
As a loved children’s writer, Lockhart did not allow herself to compose material that sounded a bit like a sermon. Still, she realized that she could get young minds thinking. Hence, she managed to write books that helped younger readers to begin to think more seriously about their own pathway into the future.
Lockhart does not recommend that every child follow the pathway that she has chosen. Still, she realizes that, at some point, every child becomes a teenager and then a mature and thinking adult. She hopes to get younger readers thinking seriously about how each of them can go-about living a more meaningful life.
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