Guest Blog by Lesley Rawlinson
I know that I was lucky. As a child, I would beg my father to tell me a story each night, and it was always a tale from his own imagination. A little girl called Mary, who lived among the animals of the riverbank was our friend, and her adventures were told to me each night; mine and my father’s imaginations combining to illustrate these tales.
I learned too, to savour and remember moments which were special. The sound of the sea lulling me to sleep on childhood holidays, the smell of the lilac in my grandmother’s garden, the pink cherry blossom against a clear blue sky. I was never going to be an artist though, so I had to paint these experiences with words.
There is nothing more rewarding than painting a picture with words. The reader becomes lost in the magic, mystery, joy or pain, and when the tale is finished an indelible memory remains.
Whichever genre a writer chooses, that is the aim. To weave words into a web in which the reader will become entangled, from start to finish. But, when writing for children, there is an excitement in this challenge. There is no more fertile ground than the child’s imagination and to find the words to fire this imagination is incredibly rewarding.
Children today still have that skill, you only have to listen to the imaginary play on any school playground. So we must not believe that they cannot be inspired by words, we just need to encourage them to weave their own spells and revel in the power of words to help them escape into a world of fantasy or adventure.
That is what we can all learn from the successful writers; from Enid Blyton to Katherine Rundell or Abi Elphinstone. I have recently lost myself in the Amazon jungle and in the frozen wastes of Erkenwald, just as I did in Blyton’s secret castles, islands and smugglers’ caves when I was a child. Then, I ask myself, can I write anything like this? Can I help children to escape to other worlds and, perhaps as importantly, desire to write stories themselves? Daunting, yes, but why not have a go?
So that is why I am now embarking on this new journey. To use my imagination, my love of storytelling, my passion for words, to try to create something children will remember. Already, I find that being able to share something I’ve written, gives me a huge sense of fulfilment and pride.
It was one of the most exhilarating aspects of being a Primary teacher, when an idea took hold and I could see the children’s eyes sparkling with the excitement of it all. At the time, it may only have resulted in an exuberant play activity but, as with my memories of my father’s stories all those years ago, one day in the future that spark might be rekindled and the words come tumbling out.
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