Thursday, May 10, 2012

Being me was actually fun ...

It was all go on Wednesday. I rested yesterday but today I'M BACK!!! I have pinched this fab link from Maureen Crisp. On the other end of that link John Yoeman answers his own question - Is it worth being an author? I agree with Dr Yoeman. This is one of the things I said on Wednesday night at the 'Evening with Melinda Szymanik' event (it's still weird referring to myself in that way). Writing is hard and more often than not, any tangible rewards fall well short of the effort put in. But that's not the only reason I do it. Being a writer (amongst a few other things) is who I am. Its an un-extractable, indivisible component of me and I cannot schuck it off any more than I could function without my brain or heart. There are times when we are not on speaking terms, my writing self and me, but we always kiss and make up and move on.

I said some other things on Wednesday night as well, such as how I will miss Maurice Sendak, whose fighting words "I refuse to lie to children" and his suspicion of the 'innocence' of children have informed my own writing. "Where the Wild Things Are," has had a major influence over my picture book stories, that successful blend of magic and realism, those hints at the dark edges of childhood, those questions. I talked about other influences, about growing up in a New Zealand too young still to have much of a children's literary tradition. I began my reading journey when Margaret Mahy and Maurice Gee and Joy Cowley were just getting started, before Fleur Beale or David Hill had published their novels. I read a diet of US and UK books for children and I have often worried to myself that my books aren't New Zealand enough. But I don't think I need New Zealand place names and icons to reflect our society and culture. I am a Kiwi, I was raised here, and the way I write demonstrates my kiwi values and beliefs and attitudes. You can't take my nationality out of me or my books. I talked too about the influence and importance of librarians and teachers. Their advice and encouragement helped me as a child and today's librarians and teachers do the same. We need them to be, and remain, passionate. How can we help them?

I talked about Kate de Goldi's lovely image of 'gnawing the bone', the bone being the issues we return to time and time again in our writing, and how my bone seemed to be predominantly composed of family. I have a lovely family and I appreciate how lucky I am but not everyone is that lucky and I think books need to reflect and explore that. I talked about my new books and how the family bone got chewed all over again in both of them.

I took the day off yesterday. I'd worked very hard at being me on Wednesday. It was a bit nerve-racking not being able to hide behind any other speakers, or take a back seat to the main event. I was the main event. I felt like I hadn't had enough time to polish my talk. My brain wasn't quite firing on all cylinders but somehow it all came together. Lots of lovely people came to hear me talk. And they said nice things to me and about me. And despite my nerves and wishing I could have been more prepared I enjoyed myself. Being me was actually fun.

In book news, I talked yesterday with one of my lovely publishers about illustrations for a brand spanking new picture book by me. Very exciting. Colour me happy.

And cos I love y'all here are some more lovely links to edumacate you on this hairy business we are a part of - something to include on your blog or website, and in defence of authors (this one was on Ms Crisps blog a while back and like a chump I missed it).

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