Tuesday, September 22, 2009
I received a lovely surprise in my email today, feedback from one of the readers of ‘The Land beneath the Shadows’. It was pretty much dream feedback – a two page word document filled with heaps of specific and insightful comments. It had me enthused and keen to jump back into the book to do the next edit. I have heaps of ideas of how to expand and improve certain parts now. Even better though is that she is passing it onto her kids to read next! Awesome news. I can’t wait to hear what a 10 and 12 year old have to say about it. It’s all looking on track to have the manuscript polished and ready by the end of October to send off for the Tom Fitzgibbon award. It was my first attempt at writing a younger children’s book as opposed to adult or young adult fiction. The age group presents some interesting constraints and challenges but I felt it was an enjoyable and enlightening writing experience. Every book and story teaches you something different about yourself as a writer. Writing this one helped me realised how I’m actually a lot closer to my eight year old self than I thought. It was easier than I’d anticipated to tap back into those experiences and feelings. Once you start remembering what it was like to be a kid, the floodgate of memories opens and all the childhood wonder, fun and tribulations come rushing back in a vivid deluge. It was nice to be reminded, that for me at least, childhood was not a rose-tinted ‘simpler’ time. Sure, games had clear rules and you could get a whole bag of lollies for twenty cents but my world, and my understanding of it, was actually quite complex. All of life’s relationships, conflicts, fears, hopes, anxieties, defeats and triumphs back then were often intensely important and never simple. It’s easy as an adult to look back on our childhood and want to return to that ‘simpler’ time without things like jobs, taxes and mortgages to worry about but I think that we can have a tendency to be a bit dismissive the troubles of childhood. As adults, the problems of playground bullies or being told off unjustly at school don’t seem that bad. We can be blinded to just how terrible the hardships of childhood can be to a kid. I suppose that is one of the many things I love about writing. When you write, you get to walk in your characters’ shoes for a while each day. It’s a nice reminder that no matter how high we soar or how good our lives look from the outside; life is never simple or easy for any of us.