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from the mslexia blog Of bogs and hedgehogs
Sara Hawthorn has been musing about the child’s imagination, Carla Grauls is trying to get her play performed, and Rosie has been admiring the cover for her new novel. To comment, visit www.mslexia.co.uk/blog
...The group of 8-13 year olds I work with has given me a sharp reminder of the freedom we have before our minds become clogged up with work, life and general tedious Grown-Up problems. They’ve told me about haunted shoes, a bunny whose face is really funny, and a fight between a tummy and junk food. Virtually nothing is too far-fetched for them – and why should it be? Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m off to write about a reincarnated budgie… Sara
...…I work with pre-school children and I’m also on a MA writing course. Even at three and four years old children’s imaginations are fascinating. We have a role-play hairdresser’s set up and one boy believes the clips are crocodiles with big sharp teeth, the big brush is a porcupine and the little ones are hedgehogs… Sarah Tarbit
...What happens when you give kids the opportunity to make their imaginings a reality? Well, they create a country and open their own embassy. No, really. The Children’s Republic of Shoreditch officially announced its independence on 4 July, and every Saturday the embassy is open to the public – but be warned they have strict border control and only those who think good thoughts can pass through and claim a Republic passport... Sara
...After my play Occupied (set in a derelict Victorian public toilet) was roundly rejected by all the new writing venues in London, I decided it was time to attempt to put it on myself, even if it was just a reading, but I didn’t really know where to start. Networking always scared me. Some people have the gift. I don’t. But hanging around theatres (to see plays or to volunteer, not just loitering… well sometimes just loitering) and getting to know literary managers is really a great way to get in... Carla
...Then there’s The Cover. Katie wants me to like it. She even goes so far as to say she’d like my input and feedback. I’m astonished I should get the barest look-in. She asks if there’s anything I don’t want. ‘Please – not a Tiny Man Walking into the Distance’ I laugh... ‘or Headless Female in Corset’, which adorns almost every historical novel I can think of… Rosie
...I’d heard the headless corset image for historical fiction was in order that the reader might project herself onto the heroine without being put off by the wrong hair colour... Cath Nichols
MUMMY QUESTIONS I think the effect of the male partner is much more relevant than the effect of children. A partner can destroy your confidence by treating you as a housekeeper rather than a person. Bryony Jagger, Auckland, NZ
As AS Byatt pointed out some years ago, a lot of women don’t start writing until after their children are grown. Yet this is rarely taken into account in terms of media attention, prizes, under-40 lists etc. Alison Anderson, Switzerland
I always wonder how your contributors with children find time to write. It’s something that established writers don’t talk about much. Margaret Drabble claimed she wrote while her children napped. Doris Lessing claimed something similar. I found this hard to believe; I suspect many writers who are mothers must either be rich enough to afford a nanny or have very supportive house-husbands. Rowena Macdonald, East London
This survey made me roll my eyes. Would you be asking these questions of male writers? Stella Duffy has written a fantastic blog on this. www. stelladuffy.wordpress.com/2012/08/05/ mithering-on-mothering Sharon Eckman, Pegsden, Bedfordshire
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A WEEK OF TWEETS Monday Mobility scooter arrived today. Can now go out in search of stories instead of waiting for them to come to me. Tuesday After exploits on scooter yesterday, back pain too bad to go out. Can’t imagine going on it ever again. Writing impossible.
Wednesday Stuck in bed. Tried to write, but no ideas. Wish eccentric lady next door had not died and been replaced by boring couple. Thursday
Undignified outing. Chip eating on scooter and Bath’s cobbled pavements don’t mix. Appetite lost due to seagull poo on seat. Friday Crashed scooter into wall on way to post short story. Elvis Costello key fob jammed controls. Elvis replaced by small elephant. Saturday Scooted along canal. Sense of freedom overwhelming. Asked husband how long it would take to scoot to London. Sunday Husband cleaning scooter due to coleslaw incident earlier. V. kind as he is not good with mayonnaise. Started seagull poem.
DIANE SIMMONS was forced to give up work due to arthritis. She went on to study Creative Writing and Literature with the Open University. Her short stories have won or been placed in many competitions and published recently in the Yellow Room and Five Stop Fiction.
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Be our guest We commission a new blogger each month. For details, visit www.mslexia. co.uk/submit
■ SUSY MACAULAY has worked in newspapers, radio and television and has recently started her own free local newspaper on the island of North Uist in the Outer Hebrides. She finds the work ‘demanding, funny and horrible’ and it keeps her ‘hyperventilating more or less all day’. If that sounds like something you’d like to try too, follow her from September. ■ NICOLA WHITE is the Leverhulme Writer in Residence at the Nursing Studies department at Edinburgh University, where she is both a ‘catalyst and scribe’, encouraging nurses to write about their experiences, and recording their stories to incorporate into her own work. Read all about it from October. ■ SANDRA JENSEN suffers from ME, is frequently ill, doesn’t drive, lives in a remote rural idyll in Ireland – and her hubby is abroad for six months of the year. Some weeks the only person she sees is the postman. Yet somehow she’s on the home straight with her debut novel, and will be blogging for us about how she’s getting on from November.
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