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Tuesday, 13 September 2011

Breaking the silence

August-September is a busy month for writers, because there are all sorts of things happening around children's book week.  I actually see myself as a writer for adults who occasionally gets the inspiration that allows him to write for children, but as an old teacher, I enjoy putting something back into a profession that has brought me a lot of joy over the years.

There are, of course, those who think that if you aren't much good, you can always write for children. Fergie, Duchess of Toesuck wrote a naff book for kids, and Martin Amis, earlier this year infamously opined that "If I had a serious brain injury I might well write a children's book."

To be fair to the man who is quite a competent writer, you really need to see that in context. I don't feel much like being fair to him, but the link is there.  It also offers some delightful invective from some of my peers and betters.

Amis' vapid observation was mentioned at one workshop, and somebody said they'd like to spit in his face. Another writer asserted that this would be impossible.  We asked why, and he explained that Amis' face was attached to his head, and that was firmly inserted in a place that made the face unreachable. Collapse of assorted stout parties.

Anyhow, I have been talking to a lot of children and a lot of teachers, and one of those has made me decide to hang around for another dozen years or so.  I met this 12-year-old at a children's writing workshop run by a local school, and the quality of her writing leads me to believe that she will be winning prizes before she is 25.

I'm busy still.  I have finished one book since I got home, but I haven't sold it, I am deep in the final revisions for design on a children's book, I'm working on the illustrations for a general market (code for non-X-rated adult) book, reading one that was published a few years back because a reprint is coming up, and I am gathering data for a social history for big people that sees me flying west tomorrow to poke around the goldfields.  The topic is secret, but that might give you a hint.  There's another hint in the fact that I was recently in Spain, at Las Medulas, as described in an earlier post. It was a gold mine as well.  Are you getting there, yet?

I could say more, but I'm still shaping the project, so I'll stay quiet for a bit, but yes, gold, gold rushes and the immense costs we have paid as a species because of our hunger for a rather useless metal.
Northern California, near Placerville. The ruins left from "hydraulicking" that ended back in the 1870s. Curiously, Australians seem to think our gold was all won by panning in streams or by hard-rock mining, but we had quite a history of using high-pressure water to flush hillsides down.

Back in a bit.