Wednesday 28 January 2015

Waitangi Day: the New Zealand story

This has been one of the hardest pieces of writing I have ever done, and one that has challenged me both personally and professionally. 

There were days when we were still tracking down images and it felt highly unlikely that we would ever meet the printing deadlines, but thanks to the wonderful publishing team at New Holland, here is my new book, just in time for this year's Waitangi Day.

Friday 16 January 2015

The secret of ideas

When I get asked questions about writing, I try to work out what the person is actually asking (which is not always the same as what they say.) Sometimes it's hard to do that at the time and I only realise afterwards what they really meant. Many of the questions boil down to this: how do I become a writer?

One question that always comes up (invariably, every single time) is: Where do you get your ideas from? And if it's in a school visit, I see the teachers lean forward expectantly, hoping that I will drop some words of wisdom to inspire those children who complain about never having any ideas of their own.

It's a such a short, innocuous question and I know they want a short, easy answer (like the "ideas are all around you" answer.)

But as I ponder this question later, after the visit, I wonder if many people think that "the idea" and "the story" are much the same thing. That once you have trapped the idea, like catching a butterfly, the story will follow without any trouble, like a child toddling along after her mother. It will just magically happen on its own.

And it's not like that. You could give a dozen people the same idea and they would come up with a dozen different stories, some good, some - not so good.  The ideas is just the start. It's the working and reworking that makes the story

But that's sometimes hard to explain in a few minutes.

So here instead is what Neil Gaiman has to say about having ideas: how to be a successful writer.

you should be writing - neil gaiman