Our Guest Post for Circle Time for April is Emma J. Homes. Emma is a lovely woman and a talented writer. Miss L and I have read two of her books – The vanishing frogs of Cascade Creek and Saving Wombats. L adored both of them, and has latched onto Ruthie – the main character in the books – as an imaginary friend she can go on adventures with.
Emma’s piece today is well worth the read, and I hope you enjoyed it as much as I did!
Why I Write
by Emma J. Homes
It never occurred to me to wonder why I write – to ask where this urge comes from to laboriously cobble together a story – until after I had published my first ebooks on Amazon.
Part of the answer, I realized, was that I love reading. A good book nourishes me. I gobble them up. Each is a portal into another world, an opportunity to look through the eyes of another into a different life. The stories put my own hopes and anxieties into perspective, while also teaching and encouraging me to face and work through adversity. Books can be an escape from the everyday, but also an education into how to strive, battle, love, grieve, be human.
I read widely; memoir (Unpolished Gem by Alice Pung, Reckoning by Magda Szubanski, Born on a Blue Day by Daniel Tammet, The people smuggler by Robin De Crespigny) non-fiction (The brain that changes itself by Norman Doidge, Gut by Giulia Enders), myths and fairytales (Fearless Girls, Wise Women & Beloved Sisters: Heroines in Folktales from Around the World edited by Kathleen Raglan), children’s books (The sword in the Stone by T. H. White, Fantastic Mr Fox by Roald Dahl, The Black Stallion by Walter Farley), historical fiction (the Poldark series), and picture books (anything by Dr Seuss or Alison Lester).
I think anyone who loves reading as much as I do will probably be drawn to try writing their own stories.
When I am writing though, I have to be careful what I read. I can’t go too far beyond what I’m writing in terms of subject or genre or I find it can put me off. I imagine it would be like trying to compose a classical symphony while listening to bluegrass.
When I was writing my children’s wildlife adventures ‘The vanishing frogs of Cascade Creek’ and ‘Saving wombats’ I read scientific papers and non-fiction books on animals from the library, and also interviewed wildlife researchers. During the writing of my children’s fantasy ‘The Peridot Pendant’ I enjoyed reading articles from the Endicott Studio of Mythic Arts (http://www.endicott-studio.com/), and other places around the web, which I found helped put me in the right mindset. Sometimes I wouldn’t read at all, but let all my imagination flow into my writing.
Writing runs in the family. My mother, her father, and his uncle all loved to write (my mother still does!) One of the earliest memories is of my mum reading her novel ‘The War Wizards of Zanfree’ to my brother and I, straight from her notebook. At the end of each chapter we would beg for more and she’d promise to write again the next day.
Her mother, my grandmother, was a wonderful storyteller too. She made the little everyday stories of her childhood some of my favourite tales, and each taught me something about my family, and my history. I think that’s why I enjoy memoir so much; it is such a gift to be welcomed into somebody’s life, and to get to know them in a way we rarely get to know anyone, even our closest friends and family.
As for why I write for kids, I suppose it’s because I feel drawn to the peculiar mix of wisdom and innocence of children. Writing for children allows me to reconnect with my own inner child – my own sense of wonder at the world.
Another question I asked myself was, what is a successful author? I had checked over my monthly sales on Amazon (practically non-existent) and then gone to an author talk at my local library. The author was young, passionate, hardworking, and almost raving with happiness at the success of her first novel, which had reached best-seller status and was being translated into eight languages. Of course I was jealous. Yet it wasn’t overpowering. I felt there were readers out there for my own books, perhaps not many, but even one child who enjoyed one of my books makes the long slog of writing and rewriting each one worth it all over again. It’s a privilege I think to be part of the life of another human being, especially a child, and to connect through a story. That’s why I write, and that’s success for me.
Emma J. Homes is an Australian woman who has written and self-published three ebooks for children, and is now working on a fourth. You can find her books at: www.amazon.com/author/