Am I doing this right? Who knows! And will anyone read it? Probably not! But bear with me, I’m bound to get the hang of this sooner or later, and hopefully I will eventually have something interesting or amusing to say.
I’m starting this blog simply because it is my burning ambition to become a successful picture book author. I always saw myself as a writer, I even wrote a novel in my early twenties (which was pretty rubbish), and it was around then that I discovered my passion for picture books. I was working as a nanny, which meant reading picture books on an almost daily basis, and I remember reading ‘Room on the Broom’ and being absolutely blown away by what a masterpiece it was. It had everything -the story was sweet and funny, the illustrations delightful, the rhyming so clever and a joy to read. I soon found myself deliberately searching the library book bins for other rhyming stories, and becoming incredibly picky over which books I was taking out. I even felt unreasonably disappointed when a rhyming story lacked correct scansion!
But it’s been a process of trial and error get to the point with my writing that I’m at today. My earlier stories, which I was convinced were fabulous, were anything but fabulous! I had to teach myself about scansion and rhythm – things I could easily pick up as being not quite right in other people’s stories were so much harder to see in my own work. When reading something to yourself over and over, it’s easy to get into the habit of reading lines in a certain way, placing stresses where it’s not then a natural way of saying the word. I even had lots of ‘rhymes’ that didn’t actually rhyme! It was through allowing other writers to read and critique my work that I was able to start seeing where I was going wrong.
I feel like I’m now at a point where what I’m writing is good enough, it’s just a matter of finding the right agent or publisher. It’s not so much a question of skill anymore, but a case of fitting into the market – and this is something I’m still trying to make happen!
Monday is usually my dedicated writing day – it’s the one day of the week when both my children are away, and I try to keep it absolutely free so that I can focus solely on my writing. The past seven weeks however, have been school holidays, so not ideal conditions for concentrating on my craft! In saying that, I still managed to write a new rhyming text, fixed up some older, shoddier texts, and started work on another new story – so it was more productive than I had anticipated! When inspiration strikes I have no choice but to run with it…
I will end this first blog by sharing with you a little poem I whipped up the other night. People were posting back to school poems on Facebook, inspired by that all time classic, ‘Twas the night before Christmas’. I was bothered by the lack of scansion in these (!), and felt compelled to write one of my own. This one isn’t for my usual target audience, but for all those parents who felt the holidays were a little too long…
‘Twas the night before school time, when all through the land,
All the mummies were smiling, with wine glass in hand.
The school bags were hung on the coat hooks with cheer,
With hope that the children would soon disappear.
The kiddies were nestled all snug in their beds,
While phonics and tricky sums danced in their heads.
And Ma with her bottle, and Pa with his beer,
Were toasting the fact that their freedom was near.
At last they could go to the toilet alone,
And drink all their tea without hearing a moan.
Their house would be tidy for some of the day,
Their kitchen a kitchen, and not a buffet.
Their eyes how they twinkled, their faces were merry,
While opening a beverage made out of a berry.
And how their tums shook as they giggled with glee,
With thoughts that the teacher was now referee.
And though the school break had caused more than one wrinkle,
They raised up their glass, downed their drinks in twinkle.
And I heard them exclaim that the future was bright.
Happy school night to all, and to all a good night!