“Day 9 of my 110 days of practicing being more courageous” Project
I know I will one day become a published author and I have been sifting through my interest treasure chest wondering what sort of books I really want to write. I noticed that I have been captivated by children writers for a while now and I happen to be doing a lot of reading children books with my toddler at the moment and I marvel upon the skill these writers seem to have to capture the young minds. And I want that.
Yesterday as I drove to Uni to pick up my ID, I stumbled upon Mariella Frostrup on Times radio as she interviewed Malorie Blackman a genius, prolific writer of children’s books.
Upon asking her why she wrote for children, Malorie said, she prefers to write for children and teens cause they are inquisitive and challenge the conventional.
Like most writers, she stressed that she is that type of writer who was shaped by her background and environment and the love of reading pushed her to becoming a writer.
I too find myself wanting to to be such a writer who will relish any challenge and write things that scare me and even controversial at times as long as it opens up more conversation. This would definitely include race, equality and gender issues.
When asked about why she is always playing the race card. Malorie’s beautiful answer was “…because I am always dealt this card all the time ”So true!
I too find that my white colleagues and adults friends by virtue of the colour of my skin, tend to bring race up all the time. I suppose perhaps it’s fascinating for them to want to know how it feels like to live in my skin and world! But I have noticed that children who notice (not all notice that I am different by the wqy) are ever so curious too but go further and ask those awkward questions freely and innocently yet some even want to feel and touch or play with my hair. I find this very interesting and definitely I am interested in dispelling some of the myths that shroud my being Black.
I concur again with Malorie that when asked a question such as how she views her life in the whole scheme of things as compared to other people, It’s very hard to compare your life with other people cause only you have lived your life.
I think growing up too, albeit in Africa, I realised that quite early that in all the children’ classics children’s fairy tales, princesses and princes that looked like me did not exist and I seemed not to be there in the books. I even recall that my very first doll called Doreen had blonde silky hair. Come to think of it, in all the Tom Sawyers, Hardy Boys, Nancy Drews, Dickens or even during my Mills and Boon season as a hormonal teen (🙈), no black characters seemed to be having adventures.
Therefore, I absolutely think that all children deserve to see all races. Thank goodness, I think dawn has broken in the equal representation front what with the influences of the Black Panther, Beyonce and the Obama effect we are really in the era where its actually becoming ubiquitous for black characters to be protagonists in the media.
Crafting an idea
Malorie has written over 70 books and counting and writing this much I wondered how she did it. Her answer was simple. She said coming up with ideas is always easy for her. The First draft always seem to come naturally quickly but it was the editing that was harder and it took her about 6-7 edits before the manuscript even saw the light of day.
Yet Malorie said that initially her work was rejected a total of 82 times but kept going by the sheer determination of knowing that this was what she really wanted to do more than anything and therefore giving up was not an option. She said that also being simply stubborn. It surely takes a thick skin to continue like she did.
She added that she had learnt very early that when someone stands in front of you saying you can’t have this or that, you can either stand and argue with them or you find your way around and achieve it anyhow. She had resilience. She said the last thing she ever wanted anyone to say about her was that she had not tried- so, she kept going.
Later yesterday as I put my little toddler to bed- I read him his school bring home book Connie and Rollo by Dick King Smith. Absolutely fell in love with his writing and went to work to do a little dig on him. In one interview before he passed away he quipped that he considered himself a very lucky person who had done lots of different things in his life and most of them not very well till he stumbled upon writing. He claimed he had been a soldier, and wasn’t a very good at it. He said he tried farming, failed as a farmer, also became a bad business man and a sales man who couldn’t sell much. But by golly he was a prolific genius at it and wrote over 130 books in his life time yet he started late at the ripe age of 56!
His self-deprecating manner was awfully hilarious 😂
His website shared the most amusing of fan letters from children’ innocent yet blunt letters. A few that blew me away were;-
Dear Mr King-Smith, I was going to write to Roald Dahl, but he died, so I’m writing to you instead.’
‘I do enjoy your books, please try to write a few more before you die.’
‘Dear Dick King-Smith – my favourite author is Jacqueline Wilson.’
‘Dear Dick King-Smith, are you dead yet?’
You really have got to love children. Surely how can I resist writing for such an exciting bunch. So, my courageous self is choosing sharpening my skills in captivating this hard to please audience. I really must be a sucker for pain alright! But I refuse right here right now to be refused!