Why I Write for Children– Michele Clark McConnochie
According to the late, great and highly prolific Terry Pratchett, “Writing is the most fun you can have by yourself.” He certainly should have known; he wrote over 70 novels after all. However, to be brutally honest, I sometimes find that writing can be very boring. Yet, in spite of the tedium, I continue writing stories, poems and novels. So, what keeps me going? In brief, it is being connected to my audience. The process becomes a lot more fun when you think about your end-reader and how they will react, and even better when you get to interact with them in person. That is because I write for children, which means I am able to spend time with them and have to think like them. Being a child, after all, is a lot more fun than being a grown-up.
So, what makes it fun? Two things come to mind. Firstly, in order to write convincingly for children, you have to put yourself in their mindset. That means farts are still funny, a shooting star is still amazing, and it is expected that you will question everything. What we take for granted as an adult is brand new to children, from how to tie shoelaces to what a menu actually is. Think about how they think and remember that life is confusing, everything is dramatic, injustice and unfairness are deeply felt and that tiny things are hugely exciting. You don’t have to just think like children, of course. You can be physical too. Get down on the ground and look around you from a child’s height and instead of freaking out because the dust bunnies under the furniture are suddenly much more visible, imagine being small enough to squeeze into that space to follow after that mysterious, exciting twinkle.
The second thing that makes writing for children fun is spending time with them. I am lucky enough to teach creative writing to children, to go into schools, do author visits and to be a step-mother and it’s usually a blast. I have read stories that get kids up and dancing and joined in with them; I’ve dressed up as a witch and made a cardboard gingerbread house for a children’s book festival; I’ve played games of imagination where our fingers were people at the disco and where I was an abandoned orphaned baby in a forest for my step-daughter to take care of. When you actually spend time with these small, weird and inspiring creatures, it makes the potentially-dreary process of writing more directed and much more fun. What will make them laugh? What will they wonder about? What will take them on a journey of their imagination?
Of course, children’s writers have to also write for adults who buy children’s books as well. We write for librarians, teachers and parents and, hopefully as responsible adults, we are likely to include a worthy lesson in our stories. I include issues that really matter to me in my books and stories, and it is a key reason for me to write for children. However, that isn’t what makes it fun. What makes it fun is laughing at a scene where my unicorn is a Clydesdale horse who has gas and imagining how the children who read about him will laugh too.
Talk about a dream job – I have fun and I get to make a difference too.
Michele Clark is a British-born, New Zealand-based children’s author, freelancer and creative-writing tutor. She is the author of The Uncooperative Flying Carpet (pub. MJ Kids August 2018) and The Uncomfortable Glass Slippers (pub. MJ Kids April 2020). The Uncontrollable Slingshot Will be published in October 2020. Visit MCMauthor.com for more information or buy the books here: https://www.amazon.com/Michele-Clark-McConnochie