“I think the reason I'm a writer is because first, I was a reader. I loved to read. I read a lot of adventure stories and mystery books, and I have wonderful memories of my mom reading picture books aloud to me. I learned that words are powerful.” – Andrew Clements
During his senior year at Springfield, IL, High School, Clements’ English teacher handed back a poem he’d written and he said two things were amazing about that paper. First, he’d gotten an A—a rare event in this teacher’s class; and second, she’d written in large red letters, “Andrew—this poem is so funny. This should be published!”
It was the beginning of his love of writing and, as many writers say, a teacher often shapes their writing lives. After college, he went on to teach writing to all levels from elementary through high school and started his own writing career.
In addition to teaching, he worked for several publishing companies and in 1985 wrote his first picture book. His first novel, Frindle, released in 1996, won 16 state book awards and the Christopher Award given to writing that “affirms the highest values of the human spirit.” In 2015-16 it was named the Phoenix Award winner for the best book that did not win a major award when it was first published. Now the author of over 70 books, Clements has won two dozen major writing awards.
“Sometimes kids ask how I've been able to write so many books,” he said. “The answer is simple: one word at a time. Which is another good lesson, I think. You don't have to do everything at once. You don't have to know how every story is going to end. You just have to take that next step, look for that next idea, write that next word.”
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