Leslie L Goodman
I grew up in Northern Illinois smack in the middle of gorgeous farmland and lush forests. The town moved at a slow pace. Summers were hot and humid (still are). Growing up, my sister and I wandered all over the walking trails our Mom meticulously maintained. Our imaginations allowed us to climb on the backs of great, fallen oaks in our forest—co-captains of our sturdy (not so sea-worthy) vessel.
Amongst my favorite childhood memories are the summer vacations I took with my family. We’d drive out west, exchanging humid heat for dry heat. Being around the late 1960’s, our vinyl car seats stuck to the backs of our bare legs. At rest stops we would peel ourselves free, a memory I equate with slowly ripping off a super-sized bandage. Dad bought sodas for us at gas station vending machines—not to drink. We would lay the icy cans on the backs of our necks, roll them under the backs of our knees, and hold them between our wrists. An air conditioner was a feature my parents didn’t want to pay extra for, so to catch a breeze, we used something called WD50 (Windows Down at 50 mph). It may not sound like a great memory, but looking back, I’m at a point where I laugh warmly about those days.
As a young child, my favorite book was When the Beezles Got the Measles by Arthur Beckerman. I loved listening to my mother’s soft voice, reading the lyrical language. Later, when I was about nine or so, I read through The Three Investigators mystery series, now nearly impossible to find outside of E-bay.
My college years were spent predominantly at Denver University where my creative interests moved in many directions from painting and photography to printmaking, weaving, jewelry design, and writing. Many of which, in addition to writing, I still enjoy. I have asked myself if I could do only one thing for the rest of my life, which would I choose. I never spend time puzzling this one. As much as I enjoy my many hobbies, writing is the one part of my life I do because—I need to.
Back in 1990, I married my best friend. Over the years we have moved back and forth across the country a few times, and through it all, I kept writing. Then something marvelous happened after fourteen years of marriage…I became pregnant with our daughter. My need to write tripled. I kept a journal through my pregnancy as well as our little girl’s first years. And when she grew old enough to enjoy books, I began to write stories for her–LOTS of stories.
When our daughter turned 4, my husband encouraged me to take writing courses in children’s literature. I researched various online schools and chose The Institute of Children’s Literature where I completed, Writing and selling Children’s Books and Writing for Children and Teenagers. I joined SCBWI, took Heidi Roemer’s valuable Poetry course, and in January of 2014, joined Julie Hedlund’s 12×12 Picture Writing Book Challenge.
My family cheers me on daily. And our daughter, who is now 8, continues to request the same gift each Christmas and birthday, “Write a story for me.” And I do…because writing is what I need to do.