This post has been sitting in drafts for ages, four months actually, so now I have a few moments I decided to finish it; but when I went to do so, I realised I’d only written a title and nothing else! That’s so typical of my writing. As a kid I used to beg my parents for a nice new exercise book (the thickest one in the newsagent, a while 320 blank pages to fill, oh how fantastic that fresh thickness is!) I’d go home, having been thinking long and hard about the title of my new book, and finally I’d open that book to the first page, find a good pen, and write my title. Usually something along the lines of, ‘The Adventures of Isabelle Bentley’ or some such childish thing, fantasy character included. I’d calculate that, as there were 320 pages, and I wanted to make 16 chapters in my book, each chapter would be 20 pages long. So I’d draw up a nice contents page, showing those chapters, and then I’d go through the entire exercise book, writing ‘Chapter 1’ and ongoing, every 20 pages. Finally my book was ready. Problem is, I didn’t really have a story to write!
Anyway, I digress. This post is meant to be about what I read. At the moment I don’t get to read a lot, because a three-month-old baby doesn’t give you much opportunity to read, or at least this one doesn’t. At the moment I’m reading Hilary Mantel‘s Wolf Hall, which is brilliant, but I knew it would be. Prior to that I was reading a self-published work by Elizabeth Egan called The Sun on Distant Hills, only because I’d agreed to review it for the NSW Writers’ Centre and they’d kindly sent me the copy to review. Aside from the other books for review, before I had my son I read a lot of interesting things. The most recent of these was Portia de Rossi‘s Unbearable Lightness.
When I had my baby shower thing, the friend who organised it asked that everyone bring a children’s book for the baby, which I thought was a brilliant idea, so I’ve got lots of different ones to choose from. It was interesting to note who gave which book too. The one that stands out most (aside from the Women’s Weekly Birthday Cake Book – can’t wait to make those cakes!) is Roald Dahl‘s The BFG. What a classic! My mum hated Dahl, I think because she thought his stuff was a bit inappropriate for children, with its witches and man-eating giants. There’s always something a little grizzly about his books, it’s true, but I absolutely adored them as a kid, and I borrowed them from the library and read them whether she liked it or not! I distinctly remember the first line of The BFG: ‘Sophie couldn’t sleep.’ As I was rocking my son to sleep in the Ergobaby the other day, I thought of that book, so I grabbed the fresh copy off the shelf and began reading. What sheer brilliance! There are no wasted words in Dahl’s writing, it’s so fantastic. Even as an adult, and having read it a hundred times as a child, I found it very hard to put down.
It reminds me, I was thinking the other day, should I be writing for children or young adults? That’s the kind of stuff I enjoy. Even in highschool I found a lot of adult literature difficult to get into and I would happily re-read Alice in Wonderland over and over than try anything for my age group. Despite the amount of cliché and the ordinary quality of the writing, I really enjoyed the Twilight series, although I know that the author is just lucky to have decided to write on the topic at the right time. It’s all about timing and marketing, after all. One book that really got to me was Ruth Park’s Playing Beattie Bow, I think because it involved one of my favourite things: time travel.
I think I’ll talk more about things I read when I’m in the right head space. For now, I’m going to ponder on writing for children and young adults…