Monday 29 June 2020

Two Reasons - Nick Garlick

Someone recently asked me why I write children’s stories. There was an implication in the question that it somehow wasn’t quite ‘proper’ writing, which in turn made me think of that decade-old observation by Martin Amis.So while I’m sure this isn’t the first such blog on the subject, here’s my answer anyway. It’s illustrated by my favourite children’s books.

I like stories. They’re the single most important reason for my picking up a book. I want to discover something that keeps me turning the pages to find out what happens next. And if there’s one thing that writing for children demands, it’s telling a story that holds their attention. If you can’t, they’re off, looking for something more interesting.

Writing for children makes me work as hard as I can on coming up with the best possible story I can. And I find that deeply satisfying. That’s the first reason. The other is this. I grew up in a nice, comfy, white middle-class environment. I went to boarding school for ten years. My parents weren’t monsters. I wasn’t abused. I had a LOT of advantages.

The thing is though, that my growing-up world didn’t seem to have much interest in what I liked doing.* Which in turn led to a lot of confusion on my part. What was wrong with me? Well, nothing, as it turned out. I just wasn’t particularly good boarding-school material, with its emphasis on belonging, playing the game, following the well-trodden path.

But it took me a long time to work that one out and it’s the second reason I like writing what I do. I like the outsider, the person who doesn't quite fit in, who does something a little different. They're the ones I enjoy writing about. Which is why, if one child who feels as odd and awkward as I used to feel reads one of my stories and thinks, ‘I’m not so weird after all,’ then I’ll be happy. 

And if they just enjoyed the story, then that’ll be fine too.

* (No claims for uniqueness here; I’d be willing to bet most people reading this felt the same as children.)


Sue Purkiss said...

Yes - recognising a good deal here!

Susan Price said...

Oh yes!

Lynne Benton said...

QUite right, Nick! Good post.