How did you first get started as a writer?

I started writing fiction, nonfiction, poems, and plays when I was in the third grade. Some of my writings began to be published in school papers and annuals by the time I was in the sixth grade, and in newspapers and magazines of wider circulation while I was still in my teens.

About 600 of my articles, stories, and poems have been published, in periodicals as diverse as Midwest Folklore and CricketYouth Alive! and Open WindowsInterlit and The Upper RoomThe Church Musician and Children’s LeadershipLiving with Teenagers and Adventure. I’ve given up trying to count how many of my Sunday School lessons have gotten into print, both in English and in Indonesian.

From experience I would suggest that writing shorter pieces is a good testing ground and practice field for longer writing. It generally takes a long time and a lot of discipline to write a whole book.

My first books were published while I was still in my 20s, but I had already done a lot of shorter writing before that. One of my books, published when I was in my 30s, stayed in print for thirty years; does that give you a clue as to how old I am?

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