So I have to say I’m feeling a bit guilty. After my self-indulgent rant last week about how much I was dreading the school holidays, so far it has been a dream.
That’s not to say my perpetual shadow has not at times gotten under my skin but mostly we’ve had a blast. So much so on day two of the holidays he declared he had just had the best day of his life.
We’d visited one of the Manchester museums with his friend. On the short ride home, as I watched these two little chums giggle, snigger and generally make mischief like only 5 year old boys can, I was struck by how sometimes with kids it is the simple things that wow them. So much for his trip to New York last year, all he really needed to have the time of his life was a ride on the tram with his mate.
I spend a lot of my time trying to make my writing fantastic. I invent characters, plots, sometimes whole new worlds I hope will excite and inspire. I attempt to take my reader to places they’ve never been, to give them experiences they could only dream of when perhaps all they really want is a ride on the tram.
Am I trying too hard? Maybe, maybe not. I am sure there is always going to be room for imagination. Perhaps though I am sometimes misjudging what it is that excites young children. If my job is to trigger their imagination I must also make it my mission to understand it.
So how do I get inside the mind of a young reader? Despite the constant surprises and challenges, I think I have a good understanding of the world little boys live in, after all I am usually surrounded by the mucky little creatures. But when it comes to girls I have to admit I am currently writing a book for a creature I don’t fully understand.
I remember reading a book that encouraged novice authors to try and remember the things from their own childhood that excited them. I’m not sure I agree, after all if kids want nostalgia they’ll read Enid Blyton. Sleepovers, makeovers, ipads, iphones, this is what an older chapter book reader will be aspiring to now. My world was more dancing with my Mum’s high heels on whilst listening to clunky recordings of the top 40. It’s simply not going to cut it with these girls.
I’ve worked so hard at those objectives I set myself a few weeks ago, honestly I have. But maybe I’ve jumped the gun. Writing is increasingly proving to be like parenting, when ever I think I’m making progress a new challenge emerges and I realise that actually there is still a way to go. My real goal at the moment should simply be to understand.