Wednesday 18 March 2009

On Writing by Rosemary Kahn

I am never at a loss for ideas for stories. I write these down in notebooks; in my diary; on scraps of paper; in the margins of newspapers and I have recently taken to keeping a small note pad in the kitchen. Ideas are one thing but my best sentences always seem to pop into my head when I am in the shower or driving in heavy traffic! Later, try as I might, I can never seem to get them as perfect as they were the first time round. I wonder if this happens to all writers?

It is important for any writer to be self-disciplined and well organized. Although the computer is an invaluable tool, I find I still like to store my ideas and even my first and second drafts of a story, in a cardboard folder. These I file and they are easily accessible. I also put any correspondence into that same file, even the rejection slips!

Reading is more than a hobby for me. It is an essential part of my writing. As Samuel Johnson (1709 – 1784) said,

“The greatest part of a writer’s time is spent in reading, in order to write…”

I read widely, on many subjects, for myself and for my writing. I also make a point of keeping up with what is on the bookshop shelves in the Children’s section and spend time in the library listening to the children’s comments on certain books.

As I write mostly for young children, I read my own work out aloud. In this way, I can correct the flow of words and also make sure that my meaning is clear. I always write with a sense of purpose and I keep asking myself if this is what a small child would want to hear. I try to include humour in every story for very young children. There is time enough for the more serious stuff later on. I also always try to put myself in the minds of the main characters. I ask myself whether their behaviour is

appropriate – sometimes the real humour stands out when it is not!

To any aspiring writer I would say, love what you have chosen to do. Enjoy the process. It is hard work but so too is everything else in any profession, including sport.

My mother used to say “If it’s worthwhile doing, it is worthwhile doing well” and I thoroughly agree with that, although writing is so subjective. Never despair when rejection slips roll in – keep on going. It is worth it in the end when that first break through comes. There are very few events in life as thrilling as seeing your own first book in print!

Best of luck to you all.


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