By Deanna Ryan
A little child shall lead them. These words have been spoken before, yet it’s rare to find a child who, while writing her own books, focuses just as much energy on encouraging other people’s creativity.
Jocelyn Williams penned two books by the age of 11, Grace Needs Hay and Grace and Gigi Save the Day.
Writing isn’t something the calm, articulate Swainsboro Primary student has always known she wanted to do. A second grade writing contest prompted her to write a story about her goat Grace. The story didn’t win, but her mom, Chondra Williams, suggested it still could be made into a book. Jocelyn thought about it. No one else in her family had written a book before, although some of her aunties and cousins love to draw and, according to her, draw really well. Despite not knowing a published author, Jocelyn decided to accept the challenge.
Her dad, Willie Williams, drove her around the farm in their Ranger to take photos of the goats and dogs while her mother edited the story. Later on Hope of Vision publishers received the photos along with her story and compiled everything into the book which was then listed on Amazon. Jocelyn’s maternal grandmother, Jeanette Scott, bought the first copy before she passed away. Jocelyn wrote another book. This one also sold. Eventually enough copies of both books sold that they became Amazon Best Sellers.
To promote writing and celebrate her stories, Jocelyn entered a float in last year’s Pine Tree Festival that won second place. The side of it read, “It’s a pine time to write a book.”
Before writing her own books, Jocelyn read and was read to. Growing up, her mom and dad read to her at home. At school, her teachers took the lead. Then at their church, Mt. Gilead Missionary Baptist, scripture was read by the preachers, and Jocelyn became involved in choir and the praise dance team.
When asked about her writing process, Jocelyn says, “If an idea doesn’t come up off the top of my brain, I will usually walk around and find something I can use for inspiration. I walk in my house, sometimes in town and outside where my animals are.”
There are quite a few animals in the Williams’ backyard. Even though they used to have chickens and donkeys, the farm now consists of 14 goats, three dogs (Rex, Colby and Kye) and one rooster, Mr. Bojangles. Not too long ago, there was another rooster, named Mr. Colonel Sanders, but according to Jocelyn, he died due to a hawk. Mr. Bojangles, however, is still alive “even though Kye chases him.” Unlike most roosters he is nice.
“I know a lot of people talk about how mean roosters are, but my rooster is kind of special because he doesn’t even like to bother people,” she says. “He just follows my dogs mostly because the goats don’t want to mess with them.”
If she could choose to be any animal, though, she would probably be a house dog because “if they are tiny they get carried everywhere their owners go and get treated better.” So long as their owners are not abusive, she adds.
The Junior Beta Club member prefers shorter stories over chapter books, but even so, does have a couple of series she owns and likes, I Survived and Charlie Joe Jackson. She likes Charlie Joe because he’s funny and the story moves quickly.
Even though Jocelyn writes about animals, she hasn’t read her stories to Grace and Gigi, yet. Still, she has read them to other children.
The long-time Star Honor Roll student makes sure to get her work done, but when it’s not interesting to her, she thinks of writing about the imaginary people who visit her at school.
Her tip to this reporter and other writers is “use your imagination because you never know how far your creativity will take you.”
More than advice, Jocelyn is reaching out to other young writers by offering a “Beyond Your Imagination” scholarship for $500 to high school seniors desiring to become writers. Her mother helped her establish the scholarship and last year three seniors received the award.
Jocelyn Williams encourages others to follow their dreams, as she does by continuing to follow hers one story at a time.
Editor and author with the animal series.
Jocelyn in the Pinetree Festival parade 2022
Jocelyn with her two Amazon Best Sellers