Back to School

To Burton Hathow School this morning to talk to children from Years 4 to Year 6 about the craft of writing and to read something from my work. I was flattered by the invitation, of course, but rather apprehensive about what I might choose to read to them. Most of my output is aimed at an adult audience and my novel Martin is probably X-rated. The rest is almost certainly PG at least. However, I remembered that the protagonist of ‘Hibernation’, written for my last sixth form in my former life as a schoolmaster, is only four years old. I read it again and thought it might appeal, although the ending was perhaps a little too macabre for a prep school. So I rewrote the last few paragraphs, changing the tone from morbid and grotesque to upbeat and psychedelic.

It went down a treat. The children were delightful and attentive. It was so pleasing to see big round eyes at the surprises I’d aimed for and smiles of satisfaction where things fell into place. They applauded generously and had some very intelligent questions to ask. I tell you, if you want your work evaluated with candour and imagination, try it out on kids. It was a lovely experience

As I was packing up and the next class convening, a year 6 girl said to me: ‘You’re very good at writing.’

Thank you, Anna. You made my day.

The story, with its original ending, can be found in Come Away, O Human Child which you can look up under ‘Books’ on this website.

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