Why I Write (Eight)
Here we go with the eighth and final post of my series ‘Why I Write’, and today I’m so pleased to welcome children’s author, Julie Fulton. Julie is the writer who nearly got away! When I was first thinking about who to invite to write the posts, I wanted writers from a range of genres. I managed to cover novels, poetry, drama, short-fiction, non-fiction, but it was only as I was writing the first post that I realised I’d forgotten children’s literature. How could I?! But I knew immediately the very author to ask.
I met Julie when we were both on the Writing West Midlands Room 204 writer development programme a couple of years ago. We discovered we lived barely fifteen minutes away from each other and often travelled to Birmingham together for meetings. The journeys passed in a flash as we discussed all things writing, reading, excitements and difficulties of being a writer. Julie is the author of the highly successful ‘Ever So’ series which begins with Mrs MacCready Was Ever So Greedy.
Over to you, Julie:
Why I Write
I write because I can’t imagine life without doing it. There are so many events, large and small, that happen around us: what else am I supposed to do with all the ideas they create?
I started writing when I was at primary school. Supportive and enthusiastic teachers encouraged us to try our hand at stories, poems, plays….. what really got me going was the excitement of having a poem chosen by Brian Patten to appear in a local literary festival’s anthology of children’s verse. I have to be honest, I hadn’t got a clue who Brian Patten was at that age, but the way he talked to me and showed an interest in what I had written stuck with me.
My mother also read to me – a lot. I heard the cautionary tales of Hillaire Belloc with ever-widening eyes, which nearly popped out when she followed them up with Hoffman’s Struwwelpeter. I laughed at Spike Milligan’s verse, loved the poems of Edward Lear and A.A.Milne and then there was Dr Seuss…..
Secondary school and the decision to concentrate on music took over as I grew older and then work became a necessity. I forgot about writing for several years. At least, I kept pushing down the urge to pick up a pen and scribble because, after all, what was the point?
Then I took the plunge and became a self-employed music teacher. Wow! Suddenly I had some free time and my fingers crept towards that pen and paper….yes, I’m an old fossil and much prefer these to a computer keyboard wherever possible. I started to write again. Anything and everything. Ideas must have been queuing up in my mind, in fact I’m quite surprised my mind hadn’t burst, because out they all tumbled, not necessarily making much sense on paper. I didn’t care. I was writing again and loving it.
I joined a village scribblers’ group and then a tutor-led class. I kept on writing. There’s a murder mystery novel set in Roman times from this period in my writing life. It’s currently sitting in a drawer and I think that’s where it should stay. Again, I don’t care. The point is, I was enjoying the feel of writing, the sheer delight of being able to create whatever I wanted, to inhabit whatever world I chose.
One day I sat down to produce some homework for writing class. I came up with a nonsense rhyming verse for kids. Small wonder, given the books I loved from childhood and the fact I’m still a musician in my ‘other’ life. This eventually became my first published children’s book – ‘Mrs MacCready Was Ever So Greedy’. I then joined the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators (there’s a mouthful!) and met loads of inspiring people. Having been a lifelong ‘country girl’, my writing led me to travel into big cities for courses and events – and I discovered they’re not bad places…for a visit!
People now sometimes ask me if I write to make money. Ha ha! Only ‘The Few’ manage to do that. So, why do I continue to write? I love it. My head is always full of ideas for a story. (The ones for children always seem to be the best, so I’m sticking to that for the time being!) If you took away my writing it would be like chopping out a bit of my soul. Plus…..
Since being published I’ve had the chance to go into schools and work with children, to talk with them about the craft of writing, to encourage them to read and read. As part of my work I discovered the charity Booktrust and have become involved with their Bookstart programme for preschoolers. What I have found most amazing is what Booktrust’s research has shown : if a child reads for pleasure then they are more likely to grow up to be an adult who owns their own house, stays in continued employment and trust others in their community amongst other things. How amazing is that?
If I can add a few books for children to enjoy, it would be no bad thing. It also makes me feel less guilty about all the time I spend writing – at least I can now claim it’s not just for my own enjoyment!
Tags: Why I Write Series