Friday, 24 June 2011

Yesterday an author and a publisher

honoured me with comments on this blog. Thanks to Nicola Morgan and a question to my computer-savvy neighbour I managed to get the button up for the ABBA festival. Please go and check it out on the ABBA blog site and support them.
Nicola also had things to say about voice - now I do know what she is talking about. I knew before I read the part in her Write to be Published. If you do not know then there is a very good explanation beginning on page 120 of the book. Nicola had said things to me about this once before.
Nicola and I have very different writing styles. Her voice is definitely not my voice. I could not write the way she does even if I wanted to - which I do not.
I look at a lot of writing and think, "Do I like it?" Often the answer is yes. Then I think, "Would I like to write like that?" The answer is almost always no. It is not my voice. It is not the clothing I feel comfortable in when I write.
I know I vary my writing style. I write this blog one way. I write academic documents in another way. I write letters to the editor in another and e-mails to friends in yet another. I also write, or attempt to write, books in yet another. It is not something I consciously think about. It is something that happens. Apart from one reading of one book I have not had an adult with a professional background in children's literature read anything I have written. I would like that to happen and I am working on it. I want to know if I can get my voice right.
And that brings me to the point that Catnip made. (If you want to find out more about Catnip then go here - Catnip strokes cats and is very friendly.)
Catnip said that it was likely most adults working in children's publishing harbour an inner child. I think she is right. You only need to look at the Writers' and Artists' Year Book and see how many agents (and then publishers) do not deal with books for children.
Some adults believe they can remember what it was like to be a child. Quite possibly some do. I am sure that most authors for children believe they can remember what it was like to be a child. I like to think I can remember what it was like to be me.
And that brings me to my other point. We all have a different experience of childhood, even within the same family. My childhood was not a particularly happy experience. I would certainly like to believe that most children feel more secure than I did. However it should not stop me from writing through children who have a different experience of childhood. As writers we have to work our way under the skin of other characters and try to understand them as well - and understand them as fully as we can. We need to know far more about them than we will ever actually put on the page.
The best children's books will appeal to children - regardless of their age. It is the inner child which counts.


Sheep Rustler said...

Absolutely agree with your last paragraph. I always have thought that a good children's book can be enjoyed by any age. I still have most of my own collection of children's books and still read them, and new ones too! Though maybe it is only a certain type of adult that would (a) do this and (b) admit to it!

catdownunder said...

Sheep Rustler, my father still reads the occasional book intended for the younger generation! He still has a bit of "the little kid" in him! I think this may be why little kids like him. Bet they like you too!