Friday, 4 September 2015

From fertile imaginations

It's no secret that children have prolific imaginations.

Being able to write the kind of stories that challenge and delight those imaginations is truly a gift. One writer from my own childhood springs to mind - Enid Blyton.

I was enchanted by the tales of The Magic Faraway Tree, pondering where this wondrous tree actually grew and what my chances were of talking Dad into taking me there.

Of course I absolutely loved the Famous Five series, and have spoken about these books before on this page.

Now, this is just one writer who featured heavily in my childhood years - there were many, many more. But it did make me wonder, especially with all the hoo-har when the movie adaptations of children's fiction are released for school holidays, what sort of stories inspire and enchant the writers of tomorrow.

I wonder this because I have no doubt, that I write today because I was a prolific reader as a child and was so enchanted by the stories I was reading as to want to write some of my own.

So, with the question of what inspires children today in mind, I started doing a bit of research.

Naturally, when I began my hunt, the first writer I came across was the queen of them all - J.K. Rowling! There's no doubt whatsoever, that the Harry Potter books have conjured a generation of witches and wizards.

Will these children be motivated to write their own tales? For many of them I think the answer will be a resounding YES!

All children have an inate spark of creativity, but what does it take to ignite into a conflagration of  imagery and prose?

Dr Seuss? Oh yes of course! Didn't we all love a good rhyming story chock-a-blockwith brilliantly impossible creatures and situations?

Do we have any future Dr Seusses among us? Gee I hope so! Bye the way, while researching this piece, I came across the official Dr Seuss website. Serioulsy, click on the link I've provided and make sure you have your sound turned on. Even the website is fun!

Young adults have been inspired in recent times with the Hunger Games trilogy and of course we all gorged ourselves stupid - adults and young adults alike - with a feast of vampires and werewolves in the Twilight series.

I know for a fact that young people are being inspired to become writers by these because my neice produced her own book - a YA adventure/romance/drama with a cast of fit, bold young ladies and sexy, toothy werewolfy guys.

Should we not be encouraging this more?

This question occured to me because we've recently completed the 2015 Melbourne Writers Festival and I noticed that there was very little in it to support and encourage the next generation of literary types.

When nosying about in the What's On section, the only topics remotely interesting to budding authors - and I'm not just talking about primary school students, but perhaps high school students as well - were two items. One was called Exhibition: French Illustration which featured images from children's publisher L'ecole des loisirs. 

Another advertised two young writers under the banner Voicing Race, asking the question, "Is Australia open to voices from and about different cultures?" Nothing against the presenters, but this one immediately set the alarm bells ringing in my head and I thought, Uh-oh, are we about to embark on yet another episode of self-loathing?

You see, we Aussies simply love to flagellate ourselves over our perceived racism - calling ourselves, and one another a racist and accusing ourselves of not giving a voice to our indiginous population is becoming a national passtime.

As someone who has travelled the world - extensively - I can honestly say WE ARE NOT RACIST! However, there are plenty of people out there who would disagree and gleefully call me a racist because I am quite frankly, tired of feeling I have to apologise for being a white Australian.

I would, however, very much like to see some presenters, perhaps at next year's Melbourne Writers Festival, offering practical writing and publishing information for people like my sixteen year old niece who would dearly love to get her book 'out there' but has absolutely no idea how to go about it.

Let's not smother our future scribes beneath a blanket of new age, socialist clap trap! Let's give them some real direction and some practical inspiration.

Nuff said!

Until next week, check out Best Selling Childrens Fiction Books and find a gift for a young person you know! Or hey, buy something for yourself and let your imagination run wild!

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