From children’s book borrower to children’s story writer

As a child growing up in Plano, Texas, Jennifer Xia spent her weekends consuming library books.

“I would check out, like, 15 at a time,” Xia said. 

Xia, a rising senior in the School of Journalism and Media, said she never expected she would write a children’s story of her own one day. 

“I think it was kind of perfect because it was something I’d never done before, but it is also very creative,” Xia said. 

Now, as a summer intern at The Drag, Xia has not only written an original children’s story, she’s also recorded it and turned it into an immersive podcast experience. 

It’s all a part of the new season of Story Submarine, a podcast from The Drag that brings children’s stories to life. Season one of Story Submarine features stories from published authors. But season two will feature original stories from UT students.

“I wanted to write a story that, I think, I wanted to hear when I was a kid,” Xia said.

Though children’s stories may seem simple from the outside, Xia said the process intimidated her. She started by familiarizing herself with information about the children’s book genre, like the proper length of stories for kids and what kind of language to use (hint: no big vocabulary words here).

She then needed to choose a theme for her story and start writing.

“I had always gravitated towards crows, because I loved taking something that had forever been seen as evil and dark and reframing it to be a symbol of transition and change,” Xia said.

She decided she wanted to write a story about race through a group of crows living as outsiders in their town. 

“I thought using crows would be perfect to tell a story on how often in society, when we encounter anything that is different, we immediately feel threatened by it instead of approaching it with compassion and curiosity to understand it,” Xia said.

The writing part didn’t come as easy, though.

“I hit major writer’s block because I was just intimidated from starting,” Xia said.

Luckily, Xia was able to balance her work on the story with a few other projects for The Drag. Xia said being able to work on The Drag’s newsletter and social media accounts gave her the flexibility and creative freedom to work in a way that helped her keep moving on everything.

“That really matched perfectly with how I work,” Xia said. “I just like doing a bunch of different projects right after each other.”

Xia said her summer at The Drag has also helped her overcome her fear of feedback from others. She said feedback has made her grow and that her work is stronger after getting other people’s perspective on her writing.

Now completed, Xia’s original story will be released this fall as a part of The Drag’s “Story Submarine” series.