One of the things that I think is really brilliant about writing is that, if you like doing it, it’s something that you can enjoy right from the very start. I learnt the violin when I was wee. I hated it for YEARS and then I went to a new school, joined the orchestra and it started to be fun. And I fell in love with Nigel Kennedy. Yes I did. Don’t judge me.
The Morrissey of the violin. Shut up.
But writing has been fun for me since before I knew how to do it. Just like my daughter, I loved making my mark, learning first how to write my name and then other words and it all got mixed in with drawing like there was no difference (because there wasn’t). Later I liked making up stories and then poems and songs (unbelievably dreadful. I pray to God that nobody has any of those tapes I made….), but I always loved doing it.
When I started wanting to be published, about twenty years ago, I didn’t enjoy sending things off. I don’t like writing letters to agents and worrying about whether I’m saying the right thing. I don’t like the feeling that it’s probably going to be another rejection. And I don’t like the rejections. But I still love writing and it always feels worth doing for its own sake, for me. It is the thing I do that makes me feel most like myself and I imagine I will always do it, whatever happens, or doesn’t happen. But I want other people to like it too…
So it’s really wonderful to get the odd bit of encouragement, whether it’s from family or friends who genuinely like what I wrote, or a note from a stranger who comes across it, or entering a competition and getting longlisted. The other great thing about writing is that everyone sees it as a solitary occupation, and in some ways it is like that- there is nothing but you and your mind. But in other ways it also opens up a world of social interaction that is a bit different and a bit similar to making friends- you put yourself out there and sometimes people reach back and let you know that you’re alright. Without that element it would be very lonely indeed. Thanks, then, to those people who reach back to me. It means more than you know.
For those who write and illustrate for children, I can highly recommend joining SCBWI. They’re so friendly and full of wise advice and opportunities for us to put ourselves about a bit.
C’mon, how could you not love him?