Our homework project at the Weymouth Writing Matters group a few weeks back was ‘Writing for Children.’ Some people tried writing a children’s story, but I decided to take a different approach…
“I’m sure I shall become a very excellent writer of children’s stories,” said Mr Snodsbury to himself. “I am, after all, the sort of person who can turn his hand to anything – so why not?”
Mr Snodsbury frequently held this kind of conversation with himself. Odd, really, that he never quite seemed to achieve anything.
He had studied the very excellent and imaginative work of Mr Lewis Carroll, and writing for the very young was clearly, to use the vernacular, a mere cakewalk. One simply invented unlikely creatures, people with odd names, that sort of thing, and placed them in an imaginary landscape. It was, to coin a phrase, child’s play.
So Mr Snodsbury sat himself comfortably at his desk, copy of Alice in Wonderland to hand, and his pen poised over the expensive notepaper the stationer had sold him with the assurance that all the best writers used it. But an entire hour had elapsed and the expensive paper remained snowy and pristine.
“Perhaps I should ring for some tea,” said Mr Snodsbury to himself. But three cups of tea, a round of cucumber sandwiches and a toasted teacake later he found he had no more idea of what to write than he had at the outset.
“Perhaps,” he told himself, “the trick is just to begin. Put something down. Anything.” So he wrote at the top of the page: ‘A Story for Children, by M V Snodsbury’
At this point he went off into a daydream wondering whether he should use a pen-name. He was aware that Lewis Carroll was a pen-name, so he spent a further hour considering it, then crossed out his own name, substituting ‘by R A S Lollicrew’, this being a devilishly clever anagram of his own devising of the name Lewis Carroll.
All this was so exhausting that he awarded himself a half-hour’s relaxation on the chaise-longue before ringing for more tea. Mr Snodsbury had to admit, though, that a title and a pen-name was a little slim for an afternoon’s writerly work. So he wrote for a short while, decided that was enough, and went to change for dinner.
His masterwork now read:
‘A Story for Children
By R A S Lollicrew
Once upon a time…’