Monday, 6 February 2017

(Giving Our Kids) A Reason to Write

Welcome to the shadowy and not-so-shadowy space behind Sally's books. If you're not familiar with this blog, scroll down to see what it's all about.

 (Giving Our Kids) A Reason to Write (Post 37)

The first how-to writing book I did was commissioned way back in the late 1980s when I provided the children's book column for a writing magazine. I submitted an essay for each issue and I think the column was called Not Kids' Stuff. The editor suggested I might turn the columns into a book, which could be published under the umbrella of the magazine. I was happy to comply, but at some point before this came to pass, the magazine ceased production. I honestly don't remember the details of what happened. Anyway, there was my manuscript, all dressed up with nowhere to go. 

The book was published later (and will be the subject of its own post) and, later still, I wrote a couple of how-tos for another company. These too came out and were popular. And again... you guessed it... they belong to their own blog posts.

By 2008, all three how-to books were out of print. The company that published the first one had sold the rights on to a new company which had no interest in reprinting. The company that published the other two still held the rights and also had no interest in reprinting. For a couple of years, I'd been fielding letters, phone calls and emails from would-be buyers who wanted to replace their disintegrating copies of the three books--especially the second one. I had no stock, and the book(s) were unavailable. Since I couldn't use the material in any of them, due to contractual obligation, I decided to write a brand new book without referring to any of the others.

This I did, basing the content on three sources: one, my memories of being a writing child, two, my observation of other writing children and three, my experience of decades of holding writing workshops in schools and libraries.

The result, (Giving Our Kids) A Reason to Write (2009 / 2011) is a thick handbook for parents, teachers, librarians and other adults who have the care of one or more writing children. Like Post 15, How to be an Awesome Author Reason to Write takes the approach that pure creativity and learned structure are not mutually exclusive, and that a job done well can still be fun. 

Because this is a handbook for adults rather than for the children themselves, there is a third strand to the content; the philosophical discussion that gives the book its title. Writing is hard work, and children, just like adults, need a reason to indulge in hard work. Adults often write for pay, personal satisfaction or moral/ethical desire to send a message, but school children write because they have to. It's a requirement of schooling. Reason to Write looks at changing a compulsory activity into something that children will want to do, and which they can learn to do well, irrespective of inborn talent.

The book was originally available as a PDF, but when I decided to release it in paperback, I wanted an appropriate cover. My own kids were grown up, so I borrowed a couple from the extended family and we had a photo-shoot in the city library. Then we went to a cafe!

Incidentally, I never offered this manuscript to a commercial publisher because I wanted to keep it in print. I also wanted to be able to update it from time to time.

Reason to Write is available from iTunes or in paperback here 

About the Blog

Sally is Sally Odgers; author, manuscript assessor, editor, anthologist and reader. (Sally is me, by the way, and I am lots of other things too, but these are the relevant ones for now.)

The goal for 2017 is to write a post a day profiling the background behind one of my books; how it came to be written, what it's about, and any things of note that happened along the way. If you're an author, an aspiring author, a reader or just someone who enjoys windows into worlds, you might find this fun. This preamble will be pasted to the top of each post, so feel free to skip it in future.

The books are not in any special order, but will be assigned approximate dates, and pictures, where they exist. 

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