Wednesday, 18 June 2014

Every day is different. I love it! - Linda Strachan

My shed- 'Tuscany'
One of the best things about being a writer is that no two days are the same. I love having the chance to stay locked away in my shed at the end of the garden, losing myself in my characters and their world, and shutting out the everyday things of real life.  
But writing is only part of the picture, soon it comes time to put on the glad rags and go out to meet the readers, and other writers, and do all the other things that are part of being a writer - particularly a children's writer.

I have a lovely time with my books for younger children and I get to spend time with my cuddly friend Hamish McHaggis.  I never thought almost 10 years ago when I started to write the Hamish stories, that I would have such fun or that children would take him to their hearts.
Hamish at Wee Write Children's festival (at Aye Write Book Festival)
Visitor Centre

I love the variety and the moments of delight when something unexpected happens. Recently I received a package in the post of wonderful stories written by a primary school class based around the Hamish McHaggis characters. Each story had a colourful and carefully drawn book cover.  

Sometimes when I visit schools I discover that they have been working on Hamish related activities for an entire term, often using the great free classroom resources   based on the Hamish series and produced by the Scottish Book Trust. Their classrooms are full of all kinds of wonderful pictures, letters to and from Hamish and models of Hamish's Whirry Bang (vehicle), the Loch Ness Monster and their own visitor's centre
 From 'The Search for the Loch Ness Monster'

With Hamish illustrator Sally J Collins

Tattie Bogles (Scarecrows) 

Versions of Hamish's Whirry Bang

Hamish's little Hoggle (home) in Coorie Doon

This weekend I will be speaking to a sell-out crowd of Hamish fans at the Coastword Festiival in Dunbar, East Lothian.

But Hamish is just one aspect of my life as a writer.  At Coastword Festival I will also be speaking about my YA novels, about Joyriding, (Spider) Knife crime (Dead Boy Talking) and Don't Judge Me which involves fire-setting, quite a change from stories about cuddly Hamish McHaggis!

Although I love speaking to little children I also enjoy the challenge of writing and speaking to a young adult audience. But I suppose in some ways the challenge is the same.  It is my job to be saying something that will grab their interest, whether they are 2 or 8, 12  or 18.

I enjoy travelling,  and visiting libraries and schools on my own is great but I do love it when I get the chance to meet up with other writers as part of an organised event.  
Having the opportunity to visit schools abroad is wonderful and I have found that children love stories wherever they live and often ask the same questions whether they are in Cairo or New Zealand, Scotland, England or Wales.

Mass Lobby for School Libraries in Edinburgh

Writers also need to have a voice and to get out and about to promote and protect facilities for our readers and supporters. Independent bookshops and public libraries (and their librarians), and school librarians are under threat and we must raise our voices to support them.

Another aspect of my writing life is being a creative writing tutor and I get great pleasure in assisting aspiring writers, in all areas of writing, to realise their potential. I found tutoring the week-long Arvon Foundation courses an amazing challenge, with so many different kinds of people at all stages in their writing. 
At Moniack Mhor
I also really enjoy running shorter, day long or weekend courses with adults, such as the Words in The Landscape workshops recently at Moniack Mhor Scotland's Creative Writing Centre, in conjunction with the Abriachan Forest Trust. 
It is important to get any group to work well together and foster a sense of trust, so that people feel they can share their writing for fair and constructive criticism.

I love the scenery I discover on my travels, the wonderful wilds that inspire stories of all kinds.
 And most of all the amazing and interesting people I meet along the way.

I feel privileged to be able to have such a wonderful and varied career. As with anything there are times when things don't go well, frustrations and of course there are disappointments but these are the times when I  go back to my shed and disappear into my writing. By the time I emerge nothing ever seems quite so bad. 

Linda Strachan is the author of over 60 books for all ages from picture books to teenage novels and the writing handbook Writing For Children  

Her latest YA novel is Don't Judge Me  

Linda  is  Patron of Reading to Liberton High School, Edinburgh 

blog:  Bookwords


Joan Lennon said...

Your energy is legend! Wonderful photos from your many endeavours!

Linda Strachan said...

Thank you, Joan.

Penny Dolan said...

Really interesting to see so many aspects of your writer's life gathered together in one post - and with pictures too. Maybe that faraway writing shed at the end of the garden makes it easier to escape back into the words, and balances out all those busy times?

catdownunder said...

And, you know, it is even greater fun for us when we are lucky enough to meet you. :)

Linda Strachan said...

Yes, Penny. The shed is a wonderful escape.

Cat, it was great fun meeting you, too. Hope to get back to Adelaide, perhaps when it is not quite so hot. Yet another lovely sunny day here in bonnie East Lothian.