Verse novels are having a bit of a moment and it’s lovely to see. I’ve long been a fan of this story form and of Sherryl Clark’s work. Poetry is often seen as a complex form, inaccessible to all but those who have the right decoding tools. While it is true that there traditional poetry can require some understanding of the tools to get the most from it, much of contemporary poetry is much simpler to read, much simpler to gain meaning from. It is no less skilled in the writing, but much easier to read. As with all writing, it’s the right words in the right order, and in the case of verse novels, its the right line breaks that make great stories.
‘Mina and the Whole Wide World’ introduces Mina who is super-excited about moving from the room she shares with her pesky younger brother into a room of her own. In her own room, she can keep her treasures safe from Georgie, she can dream about the world she will explore. Then Mum and Dad tell her that Azzami is coming to stay for a while – in her new room. And then they tell her that she is to watch out for him at school. Injustice upon injustice. And it’s not as if Azzami is helping at all – he hardly says a word. Slowly, Mina discovers Azzami’s story and her resentment melts away.
A wonderfully warm and empathetic story about family and refugees. ‘Mina and the Whole Wide World‘ with illustratons by Briony Stewart and published by UQP is perfect for newly independent readers.
I’ve just submitted a picture book manuscript and now the waiting begins. This story nearly killed me! Dramatic? A touch, perhaps, but I found it very difficult to find the voice, the starting point and the ending. What DID I have? I had the ‘colour’. I had a single image that encapsulated the world I wanted to write about, but I really struggled to find my way in.
I read books. I watched videos. I researched online. But like a bubble of mercury, the idea kept slipping away from me, while also enticing me with shiny ‘what ifs?’.
I drafted. Redrafted. And so on. I think I had done ten complete drafts (well when I say complete, I mean not-quite-complete-but-exhausted-partials) when I decided to put the project away for a few days. I was not going to think about it. La-la-la fingers-in-ears not listening/thinking/trying. I was even beginning to entertain the idea that I should abandon this project altogether, even though I desparately wanted to do it.
And it worked.
Once I let it go, and stepped away, I found my answers. I found my voice. I won’t say the writing was easy from then on, but progress was steady and now it’s done. It’s out of my hands both literally and figuratively.
Hence the cleaner desk.
Now to decide which of the projects that were waiting in the wings to spend time with. Whichever way I go, I know my desk will soon return to its much more familiar messy state. And that’s okay. When I’m in the middle of a project, peripheral mess is somehow invisible.