Friday, 1 October 2010

Abracadabra - Dianne Hofmeyr

Today I’m five. I was four last night going to sleep in Wardrobe but when I woke up in Bed in the dark I’m changed to five. Abracadabra. – is how Emma Donoghue’s Man Booker shortlisted novel, Room, begins. Anyone who has watched a four year old laboriously write the number 4 and ¾ will know how important it is from being four and not quite there – to being the new persona you magically change to at five.


In her short story, Child’s Play, Alice Munroe has a slightly different take. Every year when you are a child you become a different person. Generally it’s in the fall, when you re-enter school, take your place in a higher grade, leave behind the muddle and lethargy of the summer vacation.

Yesterday, the last day of September, saw me waving goodbye (like so many mums in September) to my son as he started new school. I wasn’t quite the anxious mum… he’s 38 after all... but as Keren David wrote in her blog earlier in September ‘It’s a big day.’ And it was! After fourteen years in the Advertising Industry, he was off to do an MA in Creative Writing for Young People at Bath Spa University.


The first event for the Course was part of the Bath Children’s Literature Festival where David Almond was in conversation with Julia Green, the MA Course Director as well Writer in Residence for the Festival. There’s no one who loves words more than David Almond and no one with more passion and energy for doing what he believes in doing.

David was talking about his new book, My Name is Mina, which follows the life of Mina before she appeared in Skellig and is a playful exposure of his writing process. He announces:

Staring into space is a good thing to do.
Words aren’t words but are visions.
The book is neat and tidy but the mind is messy.
There is no better place for a writer to be than the children’s book world because it’s so playful.
On asked whether he plans, he shakes his head. Does a bird plan its song?
On the way words fall on the page, he says he minimizes his pages to see the shape of the print on the page.

All this and much more. He doesn’t use the words – energy and passion – but this is what comes through in everything he says. Energy and passion and playfulness.
I envy my son at the start of something so exciting. If only I could write between those Gothic spires of Corsham Court and wander between the green gravestones and peacocks. Abracadabra… what a change it might be!

And abracadabra what a year my son has ahead of him!!!

(PS The Bath Childrens Lit Fest continues this week-end and I know Liz Kessler amongst other Scattered Authors is up for a session. )


catdownunder said...

I think I am a little envious of your son!

Joan Lennon said...

Thanks so much for the David Almond quotes - I've printed them out to read in troubled times. And best of luck to the lad (38? Just a child!)

Unknown said...

I love David Almond, so thank you so much for sharing. And I'm totally jealous of your son too!

Unknown said...

Sounds magical Di and not just David Almond's quotes, all of it. Wishing your David all the best.

Sarah Taylor-Fergusson said...

A few years back, I was lucky enough to be invited to a talk David Almond was giving at the Children's Book Circle, and it confirmed my idea of him as a modest genius. I hope your son has an amazing time - I am sure he will.

Dianne Hofmeyr said...

Sarah you've summed David Almond up perfectly... he's calm yet completely engaging without the hype that some writers surround themselves with. And he writes a perfect sentence!!! 'My name is Mina and I love the night.' ... what a brilliant opening.
And thanks for the good wishes in the other comments too.