My writing life
The fairies ate my cake
This is my first memory. It happened before I was old enough to start school. My mother had bought my favourite coconut jam cake. I knew it was time for my afternoon sleep but the moment I woke up I was going to eat this delicious thing. I remember waking up and running into the kitchen but the cake was gone. I can’t tell you how upset I was. I asked my mother what had happened to it and she told me the fairies had eaten it. It took quite a while for this bit of information to sink in – the fairies had eaten my cake. I remember thinking that I couldn’t really be upset. After all, fairies have to eat too.
Writing Tip ….
Never let the truth get in the way of a good story.
What do you want to so when you leave school?
Have you noticed how adults always ask young people what they want to do when they leave school? People used to ask me that too. I can’t even remember what I used to answer. I probably just shrugged my shoulders and said that I didn’t know.
I think a better question is this one: “If you could do anything in life and know that you’d be successful then what would you do?” If I had been asked that question then I would have answered that I wanted to be a writer.
This is the earliest piece of writing I remember doing. I must have thought it was quite good at the time because I cut it out and stuck it onto a piece of pink cardboard. I also did the illustrations. The thing I remember most about this piece of work is trying to draw two people kissing. I’d left that bit to last and realised that if I wrecked it then I’d have to start the whole thing again. I was very nervous drawing these two lovebirds. It’s harder than you may think. Have a try yourself and you’ll see what I mean.
Writing Tip …
If you ever do a piece of writing that you think is quite good, keep it. Stick it in a folder somewhere. One day you might be glad to have it. I’m so glad to have this poem.
This photo was taken around the same time I wrote the poem. I remember the dress, the material was scratchy and the chains were sort of strange. Do you see those fake flowers in my hair? They hurt. Bits of wire poked into my scalp and my mother was a demon with the bobby pins. Now I’m a mother myself and I’m a demon with the bobby pins too… That’s just the way it goes I suppose!
A little more practice is need with writing.
Here is my grade three report. As you can read my teacher felt that a little more practice was needed with writing. Ithink Mrs Campbell may have meant practice actually holding a pencil rather than creative work but practice all the same.
Here is evidence of my practice – another poem. The last line in particular shows great promise – “These are thing of spring.” Brilliant child!
Avid reading is evident.
It is true, I did become a reader. I remember in Grade Four wandering into the library at school lunch time. I was moseying around the picture books when the librarian came up and told me I was old enough to read the chapter books. Eeekkk! Thick chapter books with all those words! I cautiously selected a book set in Scotland. All I remember of this story is that the two young characters were in a high room in some big old house in the country. They were eating salmon sandwiches with the crusts cut off. Of all things it was the food they ate that stayed in my mind. I still like salmon sandwiches with the crusts cut off, funny that.
Here I am just before I left school. It was around this time that I decided to write a historical romance. I may have been a sixteen year old with little knowledge of history or romance but that wasn’t going to stop me. Lots of carriage rides and fainting come to mind before the plot completely unravelled. I don’t think I need to reproduce any of it here.
My first try again letter.
Some people call them rejection letters. I call them try again letters. This is the first one I ever received. I had submitted a short piece for a weekend newspaper. I was encouraged by this letter and appreciate that the person had taken the time to reject me so politely. I did try again.
“Your manuscript has much to commend it”
My hands were shaking when I read this letter. I did exactly what the letter asked and my novel was accepted a few months later. Black Belt was published in 1994. If you have a look in the books pages you can read more about my books.
|19 January 1993 Dear Nicole Re: BLACK BELT While your manuscript has much to commend it, I find that I cannot place it in its present form. If you are prepared to do some rewriting , then I would be happy if you chose to resubmit the book. Please understand that this is not a promise of publication but it is an expression of interest in your writing. Yours sincerely.