Tug o’war

In medieval times, they say, Good and Evil were pictured as a devil and an angel sitting on your shoulders whispering advice. That’s why you throw salt over your left shoulder, to blind the little devil.

I’m editing (still)  and I’ve got two voices whispering in my ears. They are not Good and Evil, but more like Imagination and Creativity on one side – and Logic and Analytical Reason on the other. I have to keep testing and refining what I am revising – as Scientific an enterprise as you could wish for – but I also need to generate new scenes on occasion. Cue Art – and the need to stick a gag in my Critical self’s gob.

Should my door be shut or open? (to use Stephen King’s metaphor) Tricky.

I need to come up with new material, to innovate, to avoid cliché – but at what point am I re-inventing the wheel? Is the accuracy and honesty of, say, a particular  image worth disrupting the flow of a paragraph for?

make it simple and easy to read, please the target readership , give them what they want


be true to yourself, use your own voice, the readers you are meant to have will love it that way


Who do I listen to?

The Princesses of Sweet Rhyme and Pure Reason talk to Milo in The Phantom Tollbooth by Norton Juster , illustrated by Jules Feiffer.  (I wish I had their advice.) 

I need other voices guiding me – external ones. I am aware of my own stubbornness, my (surprising-to-some) shyness and reticence in seeking help. Partly I feel embarrassed, ashamed that after years of teaching , and a Masters’ Degree in Creative Writing , I still don’t know how to write for children.

I have to squash my ego and seek advice. It’s the task that matters , not some day-dream of being An Author. And then comes the really important bit:

I must be discriminating in what I do with that guidance.


As my wonderful friend and musician colleague Pam Wedgwood said  the notes are only a guide. It’s up to me how I interpret them.

I need both passion to rise above the ordinary to keep me going – and commonsense coupled with humility to be thankful for those who have helped along the way. (SCBWI/Golden Egg pals – this means you.)

So I’m rather hoping by responding to both, I can figure out my own way. Something like having callers on both sides of the river telling me which way to steer – from their point of view.






2 thoughts on “Tug o’war

  1. Do you really think that you do not know how to write for children? I think it’s a bit like hide and seek – you are constantly in search of the right story … and you wish someone would discover you. It’s fun but it can also be tiresome.

    • Thanks for commenting, Candy. I do feel that I don’t know how to write this book for these children. Each time I create a story, it’s a new exploration.

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