I read to my children when they were young everyday, from newborn to teenagers. We read many books and around age 6 or 7 they began to read the books to me. One book I remember was called The Finger Eater. I read this to the children several times, thinking nothing of it, except it was a good tale. This particular story probably springs to mind because of the association with today’s prompt word, ‘bite.’
Years later my eldest daughter wrote a story of her own. It was called Esan Cigam. You may notice that this reads Magic Nose when the letters are reversed. It was a story about an interesting character that adds parts of his nose to his soup dish; a dish renowned. I entered it into the Bridport for children.
I took my daughter along to the prize giving myself by invitation. She was a runner for the prize, though someone else did better. The story was less creative, but, I suspect, properly written. I had left in my daughter’s errors for authenticity, having read the story and thought it deserved a chance at a competition. This wasn’t the first competition I had helped her enter by locating the competition and driving her to the prize giving.
Afterwards, one of the judges came over and told us that had it been down to her my daughter would have won the prize.
This daughter is now a copywriter. This too was a journey, and the journey was not an easy one.
I sometimes wonder how different the trajectory of this daughter’s life might have been had she won. Still there are usually several paths and we learn from all paths.
This got me thinking; as an editor for a journal I often read excellent stories with several flaws, and I know that these are the most enjoyable stories I’ve ever read. Yet the ones that are accepted are the ones that are right for the journal, and the ones that are almost perfectly executed. Of course, There is nothing wrong with this. The writing Journey is a long and arduous one. And who will listen and hear criticism and not rewrite to such a degree that all the power of the original is lost?
To get coaching right, you need a certain level of gentleness. Crafting a story is very different from drafting it. I’ve often felt that requires a different side of the brain. I know myself that when I craft a story I am writing more critically.
Still, the stories that stay with me long after they were rejected, are the stories with the most bite, and they were never the most perfectly executed.
Laake, Camilla, Esan Cigam and the Mysterious Dish, 2003.
Smith, Dick King, The Finger Eater, Walker Books, 1992