|The Shop Around The Corner|
What has this got to do with writing? Well, it goes back to having your work critiqued. Don't give it to family. I would be a rich woman if I had a pound for everytime someone has said to me 'I have written a brilliant story. I know it is good, my children (grandchidren/niece/nephew - delete as appropriate) have told me.' Of course they have, they're your children, very few children are going to tell a relative their story is not working. You need to find a group of people that you can trust and will be honest with you. (the SCBWI has great critique groups) Critiquing is not about someone patting you on the head and saying 'that's very nice dear.' It is about offering constructive criticism, working out together what works and what doesn't and it is mutual thing. You can learn so much from critiquing other people's work too. It is where I learnt to trust myself, if my gut says something is not working invariably it will be picked up by others. I now change anything that the gut gives the slightest hint of a grumble at.
I can also hear you ask why is there a picture of the Shop Around the Corner from You've Got Mail in the corner. I was watching this at the weekend too - a prevarication technique to avoid doing the final bits on the review essay and also I was shunted in my car and was feeling very sore and sorry for myself. It is a feel good film by Nora Ephron. But there was a point when Kathleen Kelly (Meg Ryan) said something to Joe Fox (Tom Hanks) that really struck home. She was talking about how her mother 'wasn't just selling books, she was helping people become who they were going to be...Reading books as a child becomes part of your identity unlike any other form of reading in your life.' For me this summed up the importance of children's books and something that I worry I lose sight of sometimes amongst all the academia. As a writer I need to remember I am providing a vicarious experience for my child/teenager reader and something I write might just have an impact on a decision they make. My stories have got to be good and strong so the readers can get lost in the narrative. I am sure we can all remember those times as a child when you got so involved in a book that you read continuously from cover to cover because you couldn't bear to stop. You were so totally engrossed in that world that everything around you appears to stop. I want to write stories like that.
Ok enough of my witterings, I have unashamedly pilfered this from a friend's blog because I have fallen in love with it and its sentiments: