I always think that writing is a very individual task and I’m not just talking about the solitary side to being a writer, I’m talking about the chosen writing place, the method and the time taken to perfect! Everyone has their own way of constructing their thoughts and putting them on paper. I like to call it the writing rituals. For me, I prefer to just start writing and see where it takes me but I can never be done with it and leave it there. I can’t help myself! I have to go back and rewrite, make cuts, change words, the order of sentences; in fact this is undoubtedly the lengthiest part for me.
Up until the other week, I assumed that I was not unlike most writers in this respect as surely we have to accept that there will always be improvements to be made on the initial draft. However, having read a short article in the July edition of Writing Magazine – I am beginning to doubt this is the case! The article I refer to is about Emma Cox the winner of the New Children’s Author Prize launched by Bloomsbury and the National Literacy Trust in 2014.
So firstly, I’d genuinely like to congratulate Emma Cox as I always love hearing about new authors to the industry as it not only gives me hope and determination to get there myself but also the opportunity to read something new and original and keep up to date with what’s emerging.
However, the article was about how Emma wrote the winning entry in a mere two weeks!
I’m sitting here shaking my head in utter despair, still feeling my pain from the days of pulled out hair! How could this be? Maybe she is a speed typist or perhaps she never sleeps! No, I’m convinced she must be psychic so she knew exactly what the judges were looking for even before the competition was announced! The seeming impossibility of it is becoming overwhelming! Is this the kind of super human talent I have to compete with? For all those people out there that think writing a children’s book is easy, this particular article in Writing Magazine is not helping!
So yes I had my rant about how belittling this is to the rest of the children’s writing industry………and then I got over it and moved on!
After all, it may have simply been a passing comment to a standard question on Emma’s part so sadly she might end up regretting ever mentioning it. How many reviewers are now going to be that little bit more critical from assuming it was written in a hurry? It’s a bit like selling a priceless painting for fifty pence!
I do believe there is a certain skill to entering writing competitions. Writing to a deadline can feel pretty restricting at times. Due to my meticulous approach to writing I’ve only entered one competition so far and even then I instantly regretted it. No sooner had I submitted I spotted a spelling error and my heart sank on realising it was a million miles from my usual style of writing. I felt I’d kept it too conservative and let myself down in the rush to submit. I’ll have to put that one down to experience and good practice!
It turns out Emma is Head of English at Exeter Cathedral School so it’s likely she had many ideas dancing around in her head long before she sat down to write it and obviously has a good grasp of grammar not to mention a life-long love of reading and writing. It proves that if you want to be a good writer, keep reading!
I for one am intrigued to read Malkin Moonlight to find out for myself which aspects of her writing enchanted the judges so much.