Sunday, 4 November 2012

Stories are never ending

One of the happiest days of my life!
It is a year ago since this photo was taken. Again it has been an amazing year. I have two jobs now that I didn't expect to have then. I am involved in a fantastic project which I also knew nothing about then - there will be more information about this in the next few weeks. I had my first independent article published. I have had a chapter in a book on teaching creative writing published. Plus I have given papers and I worked on collaborative paper/chapter with a great friend and colleague from the other side of the world - Skype is a wonderful thing. I have a book proposal in and I have been asked to write a chapter for a book with a colleague. On the creative side my novel is being read  by an editor - what more could anyone want. All potentially mind blowing experiences, particularly if they all come about. At the time of my graduation I wasn't sure anything could beat that feeling but life is pretty good, if exhausting these days.

Yesterday I bought the little man in the picture his first shoes. He seems to be growing up so quickly.  His idea of bliss is to sit and take every one of his books off the bookshelf so they all surround him. He then spends hours 'reading' each and every one of them. (there are a lot and those are just the ones downstairs). Some are old traditional ones, others are brand new and innovative, all are respected and loved by him. One of his all time favourites at the moment is Old MacDonald Had a Farm. My daughter and I would love to know why because the actual illustrations are not the best I've seen. It intrigues us. Perhaps it is in part because he loves the actions we all do when we read it to him. The most important point is he loves books - what more could a grandmother ask for.

I believe I have said this before, but as children's writers we are lucky, there is a perceived ever growing market for us. At the moment people still love giving books to children. They love the tangible feel of a book. I am also aware as I watch my grandson work my phone and my daughter's tablet that the current generation will probably get as much out of ebooks as they do 'traditional' books. Is this really a problem as long as they are reading and we (children's writers) are writing these stories? Does it matter what media it comes in? Not really I suppose but I confess I do love a good book to hold in my hand - showing my age I imagine. I will just keep writing my stories and not worry about what format they will be produced in. Having said that I do sometimes look at my stories and think, would this make a film? Does anyone else do that?

I was reading a bit of Al Alvarez's The Writer's Voice and this one phrase struck home: '...prose is never quite finished.' (London: Bloomsbury, 2006 p.44) How true is that? For me it goes along with the idea, which I know I have mentioned before, of Blanchot who suggest that the writer leaves questions on the page for the reader to pick up.  Thinking of both these ideas seemed to highlight that a story is never ours alone, it belongs to everyone. Every reader will interpret it differently, influenced by their own cultural space and experience. In the same way, and we tried this in class the other day, if we gave every one the same sentence to start with or sat them in the same place and asked them to write about it, every story would be different. (And it was, some brilliant pieces came out of the exercise) That is what is glorious about creativity. We all have different stories to tell even if we start in the same place.

A TED talk worth listening too is by Chimamanda Adichie and the danger of the single story.

Cathy Cassidy put this up the other day and I feel it is quite appropriate. It is Elvis Costello's 'Everyday I write the book'


  1. Having written this, my daughter has just found this quote from Jill Murphy: "reading aloud to your child while cuddled up will delight them more than any gadgets." Quite pertinent really considering what I have just said, maybe it does matter what format it is.

  2. What a great year, Vanessa, and oh yes ... it's a WORLD of stories out there!