Thursday, 11 June 2009

Revisioning - Dianne Hofmeyr


Anthony Browne says 'Every time we create something we play the shape game – every time we write a story or draw a picture or compose a piece of music we are playing it. We are taking something that we have seen or experienced and transforming it into a story… it’s the essence of creativity.'

I’m delighted it’s the essence because (taking his shape game rather loosely) it’s how I spend my day… seeing a sentence, experiencing its downfalls and trying to transform and shape it differently. I’m no longer a ‘writer’ but a ‘revisioner’, spending more time ‘revisioning’ than writing. It’s more constructive than editing, which seems a very harsh and blunt action, sort of like chopping off a head with a guillotine. ‘Revisioning’ is more mellow… the idea of finding another vision in what you’ve written, appealing. Other people might call it time wasting. I’m a rubbish plotter that’s why I have to ‘revision’. Actually a friend said politely, you’re an organic writer. Organic writing means the story is constantly changing. We’ve had this debate often… the plotters and non-plotters.

The reaction to Gillian’s post this week on Elmore Leonard’s Ten Rules of Writing shows how many opinions there are on how we should write and how we should edit. I’ve a penchant for puerile things… the ellipses, the word ‘suddenly’ and exclamation marks. How many times haven’t I put in those exclamation marks and ‘revisioned’ them out again, then ‘revisioned’ them back in? My people always speak in a high state of tension that can only be suggested by exclamations!!!

But seriously what I really wanted to say was congratulations to Anthony Browne! I think he’ll make a fine Children’s Laureate. It’s about time picture books get a look in again. Quentin Blake was a long time ago.

Anthony Horowitz was quoted as saying. ‘We don’t need a spokesperson to be the person representing children’s books. Children will come and listen to a writer whose books they like. They don’t need a government agency or a medal that says ‘laureate’ to continue that.’ I think Horowitz has missed the point entirely. No, children don’t need a Laureate in his sense… it’s not about children listening to a writer whose books they like.

A Children’s Laureate re-creates excitement for every kind of book… not just his own. And we need a Children’s Laureate like Anthony Browne who will do for drawing and seeing things in pictures, what Michael Rosen did for the joy of words and poetry. Anthony Browne’s books make no concession to what we expect to find in a picture book… they deal in mysterious nuances of the ordinary and not so ordinary… a world children connect with. The fact that they love his work shows their highly developed sense of visual discernment. Visual discernment is what it’s all about when the chosen Children’s Laureate is an illustrator. It’s about opening up a world that children will be able to access and share. And there can be no greater pleasure than sharing a book with a child.

PS. Come on, Charlie, now can you supply us with more details of what went on behind those closed doors?

PPS. I missed my yoga class this morning because I was so busy ‘revisioning’ this post and it still has a rubbish plot!

8 comments:

Helena Halme said...

I've tried both - plotting and non-plotting a story. Still don't know which works best, but I guess that's the point. We should never stop learning and trying to be better writers.

Of course some very well-known writers disagree (just like some don't see the point in a Children's Laureate). I went to see a crime writer I admire very much, Håkan Nesser, speak a few months ago and he disagrees. He says his first book is as good as his last. Oh to be so confident!

PS. Shameless plug Håkan Nesser in London

Phillip Hofmeyr said...

Great post mom - though some might argue you've lost the plot. Given you're finished work for the day... can i come over for lunch?

PS: please send me the link to Gillian’s post on Elmore Leonard’s Ten Rules of Writing. Might make a great list for http://snagsta.com!

Charlie Butler said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Charlie Butler said...

PS. Come on, Charlie, now can you supply us with more details of what went on behind those closed doors?

Sorry, we were sworn to secrecy. (Something about having our tongue torn out by its roots - ouch!) I can reveal however that it was a bit like this... http://jameskennedy.com/2009/03/06/america-emulate-this-man/

Dianne Hofmeyr said...

I'm exhausted Charlie! I feel I've been going around in a washing machine and then done a tumble dry as well. I read an extract of the book too... equally brilliant, exhausting, excessive and bizarre. How does he keep up the pace?

Charlie Butler said...

Incredible, isn't it?

pixie said...

Hello 'Aunty Di' - just popping in for a quick read and hello - love and hugs all round. A.xx

mewmewmew said...

I've tried both - plotting and non-plotting a story. Still don't know which works best, but I guess that's the point. We should never stop learning and trying to be better writers.

Of course some very well-known writers disagree (just like some don't see the point in a Children's Laureate). I went to see a crime writer I admire very much, Håkan Nesser, speak a few months ago and he disagrees. He says his first book is as good as his last. Oh to be so confident!



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