An untold story inside you
Some early thoughts as I embark on writing a children’s story
Image: Patrick Fore
“There is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside you.”
— Maya Angelou
I’m on the brink of finishing a book called Dæmon Voices by Philip Pullman. It’s a collection of over thirty essays on storytelling, written over twenty years. It’s an enjoyable and insightful read that has taught me a great deal. It’s a blend of his thoughts on both his own stories and also many other great story-tellers past and present.
I stumbled across the book days after deciding it would be fun to write a story for my two young daughters. So it couldn’t have arrived at a better time. It’s helped me no end in thinking about my own writing. And also at better noticing what other authors are doing with their writing.
I dabbled with NaNoWriMo a few years back, but I’ve done very little fiction writing since my English GCSE. A mere — cough — twenty-three years ago. And I’ve never tried to write a children’s story.
I’ve had a mixed experience so far. At times, it’s incredibly fun. Coming up with some of the storylines is thrilling. But there’s no denying that it’s demanding too. And writing a story when you don’t get extended lengths of time to write is a challenge. I tend to only get twenty minutes here or there.
One aspect I’ve enjoyed most is reading each chapter as I finish it with Eloise, my eight year-old. She’s the only one who’s getting early access. Watching her reaction is wonderfully illuminating. And reading the story out loud is helpful for spotting where the story doesn’t flow.
I’m already experiencing the snare of editing. I can see how some people start editing and never finish. There are always ways to improve what you’ve written. I’m by no means the consummate perfectionist, but I do have a streak of perfectionism. I can see how that will be a blessing and a curse.
Though I don’t know if this children’s story will ever be published, I’m glad I’ve taken on this challenge. I’m a big believer in trying new things and stepping outside of comfort zones. That, after all, is how we keep growing as people.