Monday, 30 January 2012

Why I Love Being a Writer (Part 1)

From the minute I stepped through the door of Hadleigh St Mary's I knew I was in a very special school. The head boy, Oliver, greeted me, showed me into the hall and set up my presentation on the computer for me. Throughout the entire visit, I was bowled over by the children's confidence, politeness and eagerness to learn. At the end of the day a teenage boy -  an ex-pupil who'd come to meet a younger sibling - politely volunteered to help me carry in my box of books for the book stall, WITHOUT EVEN BEING ASKED (or even being given a 'remember-your-manners' look by a teacher). 
St Mary's values obviously stick!


In the morning I worked with a lovely group of enthusiastic and creative Year Six pupils on settings and descriptive writing. After lunch (and lots of questions!) a lively and enthusiastic group of Year Four pupils created their some brilliant characters for stories.


In the photo above I'm having a chat with Rose, a very special girl and a talented writer (you should see her Sherlock Holmes story - it's brilliant!). It was Rose's e-mail to me last November that led to the visit taking place.

"I really like your books!"  the message began. 


Now, here's a girl with great taste in literature, I thought! 


"I'm on The Mystery of the Vanishing Skeleton," Rose's message continued. "I can't stop reading it, it's so exciting. The Adventure Island website is cool and me and my Dad got into the S.I.T agents part (eventually). My favourite character is Emily and I really like Drift. I wish I had a dog just like him!"


Readers telling you that they enjoy your  books is just about the best bit about being a writer!   Along with the fact that you have permission to make stuff up all day as an ACTUAL JOB and can work in your pyjamas when you feel like it, of course! 


Anyway, Rose told her teachers about the Adventure Island books and suggested they invite me for a visit - and being wonderfully supportive teachers they did just that. In fact, we'd planned for the visit to be a surprise for Rose, but she rumbled us a couple of days beforehand (the letter home to parents telling them about the visit might have been a clue!!).


my new mug in action already -
note grumpy dog waiting for a walk! 
Thank you to everyone at St Mary's - heads, class teachers, teaching assistants, dinner ladies ... and of course, all the pupils - for making me so welcome in your school.


And a huge thank you to Rose's family for the thoughtful gift - a gorgeous rose-patterned Cath Kidston stationery set and mug.   How did they know that tea and notebooks are the backbone of the writing life!


And now for a fascinating fact I learned on my visit.


The fear of cotton wool is called Bambakomallophobia.


Thank you, Year Six, for introducing me to this truly magnificent word. I'd never heard it before. In return, let me share this one with you.


The fear of peanut butter sticking to the roof of your mouth is called Arachibutyrophobia!


Anyone got any more weird and wonderful phobia words to bamboozle us with?


Read all about it on the St Mary's website.