It would be perfect if Joan herself were here to write this blog! With her many years of experience from her own early days of struggle and rejection slips, her wide reading and appreciation of all kinds of life and literature, and her great sympathy for fellow writers, she would have had so much to share.
She valued her peace and privacy, and had already firmly rejected the computer as a writing tool, preferring to handwrite and use a familiar typewriter, so I don’t know how she would have taken to the world of social networking and instant internet communications. But I also know she was a faithful correspondent and replied to hundreds of letters in her lifetime; she valued letters from her readers enormously, and wrote many appreciative and thoughtful reviews of other writers’ work.
Joan was at one time persuaded to write a book about writing for children, and although writing methods and publishing possibilities may have changed since then, what she has to say is still both inspiring and encouraging – even if the world is now flooded with more information and advice for writers, in books and on the internet, than any of us can possibly make sense of – she still has treasure to offer, and I am very happy to pass it on. She dedicated it to her wonderful friend and mentor, Kaye Webb, the Puffin Books editor who did so much to promote new children’s writers.
Here is a short sample from The Way to Write for Children (not her choice of title, of course, she said there are many, many ways!) which I hope will spur you on:
What should a children’s writer write – and not write?
“A children’s book is not something that can be dashed off to order – children have huge needs…which reading will help to fill. A good children’s writer may be particularly well equipped to do this…as a kind of lunatic or poet…they are the sensitive points in a civilisation.”
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Read more about Joan’s The Way to Write for Children on the Website
Published in the USA, but you can find it here
And scroll down to find lots more posts on Writing Advice from Joan Aiken
Don’t forget the 2019 Joan Aiken Future Classics prize is now open!