Tuesday 1 January 2013

Happy New Creating

 by Maureen Lynas

 As you embark on another year of creativity, all fired up with the Slushpile wish lists, I thought I'd offer up some gems of advice from the people who know what it takes to stay on the creative pathway of bumps and potholes. Authors and illustrators must show determination in the face of so many things - the learning curve, rejection, the learning curve, the state of the industry (or rumours about the state of the industry?), the learning curve, changing technologies, new opportunities and the curve of learning that must be climbed.

So my funEverse friends have joined the slushpile to say - Happy New Year To All Creative Types - we understand the highs, we understand the lows and we celebrate your drive and dedication with a few pieces of advice. 

That's Life!   
Oh wouldn't it be wonderful to live the writer's dream - someone else does the shopping the ironing, the hoovering, get's the kids to school, unblocks the loo. It ain't going to happen. Ideas come when you are out and about, or peeling potatoes, or wiping a snotty nose. That's why small notebooks were invented.
Meagan Munroe
I’ll write it down later
I wanted to write a story today
but I lost my pen, which caused a delay.

Before I know it the gas man has come,
he reads the meter and flashes his bum.

The telephone rings, its great Aunty Pat
she’s bored, lonely and wanting to chat.

Evening brings quiet and fuels delight,
now I can sit down and finally write.

Notebook is open, the desk lamp is lit,
but my idea…
Well, I forgot it.

©2012 Meagan Munroe

Write to the Max!
Take those risks, don't be predictable, don't accept the first idea until you've explored the options. Don't be timid. Take a deep breath and let your imagination go!

Lesley Moss

Writing and Illustrating For Children 
(and other extreme sports)
Walk barefoot across blazing words,
gallop to the end of that first draft,
abseil down Illustration Mountain,
paraglide through perilous paragraphs -
Just remember -
when writing is risky,
and drawing is worse,
your characters frisky,
and deadlines a curse,
when you’re hurtling through space,
and The End’s not in sight,
when you can’t take the pace,
and your brain’s taken flight -
don’t give up. Know it’s all meant
to be. You’re living your dreams!
You’ll be glad that you went
to creative extremes.

©2012 Lesley Moss

Listen to those Voices!
At Seven Stories, Newcastle, David Almond talked about the moment he decided to write his wonderful book My Name is Mina. He'd sat down and listened to his characters, they were crowding behind him looking over his shoulder, and he'd asked 'Who's next?' It was Mina, a fascinating young girl who played the side kick in his book Skellig. She wanted her own story told in a very particular way. So, I went home and asked 'Who's there?' I got Boggarty Bog, a burping troll. Ah well, each to his own head. 

Alex Craggs and sons.
Dear Weirdo Illustrator,
I thought you were a weirdo
in that shed all by yourself,
So watch you through the window
paint a sneering snarling Snelf.
Your brush, it flashes wildly
flinging splodges to the floor,
to create this crazy creature
with the snotty grotty roar.
And thirteen eyes on stripey stalks
peer out beneath its wings,
at seven rounded bottoms
each with seven pointed stings.
But while I love its tentacles
and tusks, and beak, and beard!
It’s out your head into your shed
Snelf came. So yes! You’re weird!

©2012 Alex Craggs

So, listen to your inner voice or you could end up with rebellion! 
Laura Lou Stewart
Dearest Author
Before I start, I'd like to state
I think your work is really great,
It’s not that I’m ungrateful, see,
Just this new plot, well, isn’t 'me’.
For instance take that smooch with Jim,
Purr-lease! I wouldn’t fancy him!
With that long hair and lazy eye?
That’s not my dream hunk you describe!
And did I say I hate the pet
Your agent said I ought to get?
I think he meant furry and cute,
Not scaly Sid the eel-tongued newt!
I guess I’m saying I’ve needs too,
Despite being made up by you.
So how about we compromise?
You try to see things through my eyes?
Then maybe I’ll help with book two.
Your character, Miss Poinsa Vue

©2012 Laura Lou Stewart

The Awful Authorful Block
Ah, the dreaded Writer's Block. I'm stuck, I'm stuck! I'm stuck! You may be staring at the first white page. You may be clutching a full 100,000 page manuscript. Or you may be attempting to visualise a scene that has to get 'Orrible 'Enrietta into the clutches of Demon Dave and back out again with a marvellously creative escape plan that has never been seen before. We understand your pain. We've had that headache.

Authorful Block
Some authors try to live in dreams,
Others like to plot.
Some will walk for miles and miles,
While others sit and rot.
One may sit and scratch his head,
Another pulls her ears.
Ying yanks out great clumps of hair,
Shane sheds pools of tears.
Rumi likes to ruminate,
Spencer tends to splurge.
Leanndra lines up all her pens
When taken by the urge.
As for me, I must confess,
When lost for inspiration,
I find a bar of chocolate clears
Creative constipation.

©2012 George Kirk

Face Your Fears.
No one is looking over your shoulder. No one is going to 'mark' your work. Write to please yourself. Write to play with words and people and emotions. Give yourself permission to write a terrible first draft. And don't forget - If you don't write - you're not a writer. 

Mo O'Hara
My stories spin, I sit and stare
Lost whirling words are all in there
I can’t leap in, I feel a fool
Too frightened of this deep wordpool.

Consonants crash, stanzas collide
Speech marks fly off, I’m too tongue tied
To save a line or salvage verse
I dive through dialogue and curse.

“I’ll beat you yet, you darn first page!”
My hand starts writing in a rage
The wordpool ebbs as my pen flows
First sentence down. Phew! On it goes...

©2012 Mo O’Hara

Join a Writer's Group.
We slushpilers are all members of the Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators and would recommend joining a writing group. Having the support of a group is the best thing you can do to keep sane in the face of rejection and an incredibly steep learning curve (as long as it's the right group - the wrong one could actually send you insane). Look for people in the group who can be objective not subjective, who can help to make your story a better story without making it their story, who will tell you the truth about your skills in a kind, clear and supportive way. And do the same for them.

Kathryn Evans
My SCBWI Net (work)
Deadline? Dead you say?
Gulp. Ok.
Help! I need a Beta-reader-
Calling UK Calling UK.
What do you think?
Really? It stinks?
Okay Okay.
Oh I don’t know
I think I may,
Skype my buddy in SA…
I’ve got this piece, could you critique?
You star, of course, I’ll do that tweak.
It’s good, it’s done. Hooray Hooray,
What’s this? Cliché?
Oh Lord.
What IS the time in USA?

©2012 Kathryn Evans

There's a thump on the doormat or a ping of an email and there it is again - rejection. Which  leads to dejection which leads to the reflection - am I delusional? Is my writing rubbish? Or am I misunderstood? Did our funny bones not connect? Are vampires really dead? Maybe the only way to know is to - join that writing group.

Me again!

Dear Author, Dear Illustrator,
From, Sobbing in Sodbury. 
Nee, na, no, jo, non, lay, nay,
NO in any language,
Really spoils your day.
There's tantrums in Tahiti,
And sulks in Kathmandu,
Monster rants in Rio,
And pouting in Peru.
Nee, na, nay, lay, non, jo, NO,
That word in any language,
is a giant bag of woe.
But spirits up, creative types,
Try again, submit!
Soon editors will leap and cry,
Eureka! This is it!
Ha, he, ja, da, doy, si, YES!
That word's in every language too,
We wish you all success.

©2012 Maureen Lynas

And a Happy New Year from all on Notes From the Slushpile and The funEverse.


  1. Fantastic collection of inspiring and funny verse, ladies and gent!

    Have a wonderful 2013

  2. Wonderful poems Funeverse! An excellent way to begin 2013.

  3. Heh extreme sport is right! Thank you poets!

  4. I absolutely love Miss Poinsa View!

  5. Happy New Year Slushpile - thanks for having us! This really is the best writer's blog I know x

  6. genius, all of them. I love the extreme sports - makes me realise it's time to jump out of the plane and stop looking at the view!

  7. Happy New Year to the FunEverse!

  8. What a brilliant start to the New Year! Here's to 2013 being a great year all round.

  9. What a great way to start the year! Thank you Fun Everses!

  10. Brilliant, FunEversers!

  11. LOL!! I could read these verses all day!!! LOL!! Love em! Thank you, thank you, thank you!

    Happy 2013 to all of you!! take care

  12. Ah! This is totally brilliant. And I'm delighted the friend in SA got a look in, though I have to say, I'm still waiting for that skype call... ;-)
    You funEversers are a brilliant bunch!
    Wishing you all the very best for 2013!

  13. A great fun start to 2013, thanks to you all for your inspiration.

  14. Thank you for all the lovely comments. It's great fun being part of the funEverse, and we have a new set of poems about to be launched for the kids too. Look out for the Eyeball Ogre!

  15. Brilliant, funEverserereres! Thanks for the cheery new year!


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