Why I Write
This week I’d like to share with you some of the reasons I write for children:
Listening to a Year 5 boy at a little country school, recite the first three stanzas of Banjo Paterson’s, ‘The Man from Ironbark’, when all I asked of the class were the names of three of the Masters of Australian Poetry.
Hearing ‘Hello Corinne Fenton’ echoing over the quadrangle by bunches of small children as I walked across the school grounds for a coffee break in between sessions, (they never just say Corinne, it’s always Corinne Fenton.)
Seeing a Year 4 girl in another small country school, raise her hand with the exact right word after I read ‘The Dog on the Tuckerbox’ and asked the class to pick the word which took me 6 months to get right. I always stress that I didn’t sit for 6 months staring at my computer or notepad, searching for that elusive word – but the right word did take 6 months to come. Often the questions emerge, was it ‘tuckerbox?’, ‘bullock?, ‘Lady?’- but this time there also came . . . ‘Matchstick.’ (I wanted to convey to the reader that to the attacking bull, Lady was small and insignificant – nothing. As it was the page of the bushfire scene, the matchstick also hinted at the power of something small.)
‘Barking bravely, Lady sprang at the bull’s head. The outraged bull flung Lady off as if she were a matchstick, then turned and disappeared into the bush.’
A father telling me about how excited his little daughter was when she visited Luna Park and rode the horse I call Flame, from ‘Flame Stands Waiting.’
‘Thank you’ emails dropping into my inbox and being given drawings from children, are special treats.
Spending a few extra minutes with a Year 6 boy, a normal non-reader who thought he couldn’t write, then going back to the same school a month later and reading his piece out loud to the class for feedback, because he wanted to make it even better!
A teacher telling me her Preps where whispering, ‘I think I saw Corinne Fenton’ at the office (makes me feel warm and fuzzy).
and the angelic grade one girl, I hadn’t even noticed, probably because she was so quiet and well-behaved, coming up to me at my final visit and giving me a cuddle goodbye.
All these children – seeing their joy, pleasure, understanding and pride in what they’ve achieved, that’s what makes it worth it, and that’s why I write and I’m fairly sure that most writers of children’s books could tell you the same stories.
(Below is a letter I have just received from some gorgeous students and a dedicated teacher.)
Thank you for coming and spending time with us at our school St Clement of Rome.
You have made writing sound a lot more fun and we are really looking forward to enjoying it more in the future.
You have given us lots of tips for writing, like our writing doesn’t need to be long to be good and the more time we take to write the a story the better it will be.
You have given a lot of us more confidence with our writing because sometimes when we write we don’t want to read it out and share it with other people.
You have inspired all of us to never give up on our stories no matter how bad we think they are.
We hope that you continue to write picture story books for kids and what you do.
Thank you. Love from Class 2T