My little six-year old (who looks so much older now she has a gap in her teeth, and can do her own hair...even if it does look better from the front than the back) adores reading, as I've mentioned before. She also likes writing stories, when she is in the mood. I'm careful not to push her. I think there's an effort involved in the mechanics of writing at her age that is exhausting, and can actually extinguish the creativity that making up stories needs. Every so often, she'll produce a story, and she is lit up with the joy of it.
More often, she starts a story, and then discards it unfinished. I'm sure many of us can associate with that.
Her father, who regards my writing with some bemusement, but humours me, heard of a writing competition for children, run by the BBC. Without thinking it out, he printed the rules, and told her all about it, and she is now determined to enter. It makes my chest feel tight for her. I remember entering Blue Peter competitions for all sorts as a child, and that complete lack of understanding you have at that age of just how many other entries you were up against. I remember the disappointment of never winning. She hasn't understood that yet. She isn't even aiming to be in the top twenty-five for her age category. She wants to win some books. And that's another thing - her age category is nine and under. A nine year old is a whole different creature to a six year old.
So I'm taking it rather seriously and her dad is laughing, and says, Just let her write it, ok? Then send it up.
But they're looking for originality, characterisation, plot...!
So we had a half hour this afternoon when she made up two characters, and I asked her questions about them. It was a lot of fun. She really enjoyed it, and I always love spending time with her weird little mind. I'm finding it strange, despite my teaching background, to think how best to break the process of plotting into chunks for her. I think she is already beginning to have ideas about how she can use the characters she has come up with - they are suggesting plots to her - and I think she would have liked to do more today, but I refused, and said we'd carry on another day. I'm hoping that will keep her enthusiasm high.
Do you think I'm overthinking this? Do you think it says a lot more about me than her?!
I suspect her brother will be very different. The five year old had a dream last night that I dropped a jar of ants in the bathroom, and we flushed most of them down the toilet but then one crawled under his skin, and went from his belly button right up to his head. I'm already looking forward to the stories he'll make up...