I’ve been asked to say something inspirational to children at a friend’s primary school who may be aspiring writers. And so I thought about all the tips I would have given myself at that age. Only at that age I didn’t want to write. I didn’t want to work at all. I was too busy reading. I wanted to be IN a book, not make one. I wasn’t lazy, I was just otherwise occupied.
Only the thing is, it paid off. I’m not a writer because I had a burning ambition aged 6 to be Joan Aiken. I wanted to be Arabel, or, better, Mortimer the raven. Or Heidi. Or George in the Famous Five. And so I managed to come up with some words that said this. And more. These are the words:
“I never tried hard to be a writer when I was young. I was too busy being a reader. And that’s my advice: eat, breathe and sleep books. Drink those stories in until you are full, and then the next day, start again. That way, you will know how a good story works, and that is what makes a writer. Not spelling, not punctuation, not knowing when to use a CAPITAL letter. Stories are where the world starts and ends. Stories are life. Stories are where the WILD things are. So go hunt some down.”
About Joanna Nadin
A former broadcast journalist and special adviser to the prime minister, since leaving politics I’ve written more than 80 books for children and adults, as well as speeches for politicians, and articles for newspapers and magazines like The Guardian, Red and The Amorist. I also lecture in Creative Writing at Bath Spa University, and hold a doctorate in young adult literature.
I’m a winner of the Fantastic Book Award and the Surrey Book Award, and have been shortlisted for the Roald Dahl Funny Prize, the Booktrust Best Book award and Queen of Teen among others, and twice nominated for the Carnegie Medal, for Everybody Hurts, and for Joe All Alone, which is now a BAFTA-winning and Emmy-nominated BBC TV series. I've also worked with Sir Chris Hoy on the Flying Fergus series and ghost-written Angry Birds under another name.
I like London, New York, Essex, tea, cake, Marmite, mint imperials, prom dresses, pubs, that bit in the West Wing where Donna tells Josh she wouldn’t stop for a red light if he was in an accident, junk shops, crisps, Cornwall, St Custard’s, Portuguese custard tarts, political geeks, pin-up swimsuits, the Regency, high heels, horses, old songs, my Grandma’s fur coat, vinyl, liner notes, the smell of old books, the feel of a velveteen monkey, Guinness, quiffs, putting my hand in a bin of chicken feed, the 1950s, burlesque, automata, fiddles, flaneuring, gigs in fields on warm summer nights, Bath, the bath.
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