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Archive for May, 2013

If the cap fits…

Most, if not all, of us wear lots of different hats.  I don’t mean berets and fedoras and bobble hats, though all of these are lovely and I probably have worn at least one of each at one time in my life.  I mean metaphorical hats, hats with labels attached.

I am my parents’ daughter, my sisters’ sister, more often these days my husband’s wife and most often of all, my children’s mum.  When I was in paid employment, I was Manager of this or that, even once the Head of something else.  These days I’m sometimes Mrs Christie to the children in the class I help in as a volunteer or just “my friend Carol” to my friends.  I could go on.  Like most people, I play lots of roles, and my identity is inextricably linked with all of them.

Today I had a lovely surprise.  I have been invited to a very special book launch at Corstorphine Primary School.  The P6 children have been working hard with local author, Mary Turner-Thomson, to produce their own book.  I am so excited to see the end result!

Now, I have very close links with the school.  My daughter was there and my son still is.  I volunteer in class and I’m also on the parent council.  I teach a Kids Knit after school class there once a week.  But none of this has anything to do with why I have been invited.

My invitation tells me that the children decided themselves who they would like to invite.  The letter says: “We know that you are an author, so we would really like it if you could come along and see our work.” So I am left in no doubt that I am being invited by the children as a “published author”.

It’s a hat that I am very pleased and privileged to wear.

And I’m so looking forward to seeing the book the children have produced!

“It made me feel I could do anything”

This is exactly the kind of feedback which makes it all worthwhile!  This week a wonderful package arrived from J6 at Clifton Hall School, full of lovely letters and a brilliant card with photos from my visit last week.

Writing is largely a solitary business.  Mostly it’s just me and my notebook or my laptop, getting down words, one after the other, trying to pin down the world which is in my head into something that other people will understand.

Which is why it is always such a privilege to be able to take my words out and about and share them with real live children.  And it’s great fun to find out some of the amazing ideas and interesting questions the children have inside their heads too.  I always come back from a school visit absolutely buzzing.

To hear how much the children enjoyed the visit too is great.  Here are just a few quotes from the letters I received this week:

“I’ll never run out of story ideas again.”

“Now I have my own notebook and I am going to take it everywhere.”

“The “what if” game really inspired me the most.  I loved how you used it to get us going.”

“Thank you for reading your new book to us. It made me feel that I could do anything, fight crime and save the day.”

“Last Christmas I started writing a story and after your talk I decided to go back to it and I wrote two more pages so it now has 7 pages, which is an achievement for me.”

And my favourite comment:

“I think you really inspired the class because tons of people are bringing in notebooks and writing stories.”

I love stories and there is nothing more satisfying than knowing I have inspired someone else to pick up their pen and start writing.  So thanks J6!  You were a fantastic audience and your card and letters really made my day.

 

In which the author tries to cram as many words as she can into a single sentence…

I sit in the garden in the sunshine, watching the washing wavering on the whirly and a blackbird noisily washing itself in what has become the neighbourhood birdbath (in other words, the puddle which invariably forms at the bottom of the kids’ chute – and yes, it is a chute and not a slide, because this is Scotland and that’s the way it is) and it’s not quite as lovely as sitting in the garden yesterday at St Abbs, because that had the added attraction of a view of the sea – which was suitably azure and alluring – but sitting here, what I wonder is – does where I work affect what and how I write?

If I read over that last sentence – because it is just one sentence – I suspect that I have answered my own question.  My usual leaning is towards crisp and concise prose, even if I don’t always achieve it.  And yet, here in the garden, in the sunshine, my pen seems afflicted by a certain languorous meandering.  This doesn’t often happen.  Can the warm and the greenery around me be the cause?  Should I go and sit beside the open fridge and see if I write differently?  Well, no, that might be a bit drastic.  But I do wonder if the unevenness of tone which can be a problem when writing a longer piece over several weeks of months is partly caused by changing environment.  What do you think?

Categories: Uncategorized

Wonderful writers and a haunted castle

It sounds like a match made in heaven, doesn’t it? 

Yesterday I spend a great afternoon with J6 at Clifton Hall School.  The room was fairly brimming with ideas and enthusiasm and I found out something that I didn’t know before I went – the school, which is in an old castle, has its own ghost.  Would I have dared to go if I had known?  Hmmm… *

Luckily (?) I didn’t bump into the ghost, but I did meet an impressive group of young people, who clearly have a lot of writing talent.  I am sure there are lots of stories already growing in that classroom.  I wonder who will be brave enough to write one about the resident ghost?

 

*Of course I would!  Imagine having the chance to talk to a ghost.  I’d love to know what it feels like to walk through walls and what you do to stop being bored when you’ve been around for hundreds of years.  And a Clifton Hall ghost would be bound to have loads of interesting stories to tell about what pupils have got up to through the years.