A New Direction

Hi all,

Work has been mad and I’ve been tired but I’ve started working on some Father’s day material and other bits.   However, today I am sharing something slightly different.

A few months ago, a friend of mine shared a job on facebook that had been advertised by Twinkl, a resource website for teachers.  The site has been widely used by schools at which I’ve worked and they were advertising for content writers, in particualar writers who could write stories for ages 3-8.

I did consider it for a while but quickly dismissed it on the grounds that, although I’ve said ‘never say never’ when it comes to writing for children, it just hasn’t been high on the agenda.  I thanked my friend kindly for thinking of me and moved on.

But then something happened……

For the past few months I’ve been teaching and supporting Year 2 ( 6-7 year olds), helping to prepare them for their SATs. (statutory assesssments for the end of their age phase)   One morning, while helping the children write stories and having read a longer story by one particular member of the class, who had put together his own book,  I had a little spark of inspiration.  I wanted to write stories for these children. I wanted to inspire them to write, provide a role model for their own story writing as well as encouraging them to read for their own enjoyment.  Could I write for children? I thought.  I hadn’t really attempted any children’s fiction.  When I used to write stories it was for teens or adults and I’d never really had the desire to reach the children’s market.  Until then….

Since then I’ve started to research the children’s market and read some stories aimed at children about 6 or 7, maybe a bit older.  Some of these are stories the children have been reading to me!  It wasn’t until a few evenings ago that I actually went for it and wrote a children’s story.  I knew I wanted my stories to have an element of adventure and fantasy.   Having been inspired by a nature trail I went on with my mum and the boys,  I have latched onto the idea of elves and fairies.

The idea actually struck me when I was putting Sam to bed.  I knew I wanted part of the story to be set in Benidorm as I loved the setting and wanted to write about it again but I also knew that the character was going to be transported to another world.  Then, just like with my poems, the story started to form in my head. So when I got downstairs I got it all down.

Having written it, I left it for a couple of days before I edited. When I read it back, I was quite pleased with it for a first story and particularly liked the fantasy parts.  It probably still needs a lot of work but in the interest of putting it out there, I shared it with some lovely friends on a facebook group I am in.  They are a wonderfully supportive bunch of mums who have children the same age as my eldest (and some have older or younger children)  They are also all teachers so I thought they would be a fab first audience.  I got some great feedback and it has given me the encouragement I need to share it on this blog.

So, dear readers, I give you my first children’s story, yet to be titled:

It was a warm, sunny afternoon in Benidorm.   The palm trees were waving in the summer breeze and children splashed in the hotel swimming pool.  Everyone was in high spirits.  Everyone, it seemed, except for Charlie.  Charlie was annoyed.  Charlie was frustrated.  Whatever he did he always seemed to get in trouble, “Calm down Charlie,” they would say. “Don’t do that to your brother! ” “Stop throwing your ball in the pool Charlie!”     And yet his brother, his little nine month old brother, Ted, could do no wrong.  He was floating adorably around on his baby float,  mum and dad smiling fondly and spinning him around.  He was getting admiring looks from other people in the hotel. 

But look at him, Charlie thought, gazing at his brother He is quite a cutie.  Charlie decided to join his brother, so with an almighty splash he jumped into the toddler pool. 

But all he got was his mum’s sigh. “Charlie! No!” You are getting water in your brother’s eyes! Do you want to blind him?” Jeez, thought Charlie, I only wanted to play with him! And what’s this about blinding him? That will never happen!  His parents were too much sometimes. 

With a scowl, he emerged from the toddler pool and turned to the bigger pool.  it looked so appealing right now, the blue water shimmering in the sunshine.  He took a deep breath and jumped in there instead. 

But then something unusual happened….

Instead of the cool water of the swimming pool, his legs made contact with much warmer water.  Not hot, just warmer than the pool should be. He felt a force pulling him under water, but instead of panic, he felt very calm. Not just because he knew he could swim under water but also because the force wasn’t a rush but rather a calm gentle flow.   

Charlie emerged from the water but he wasn’t in the hotel pool anymore.  He appeared to be in the middle of a lake.  A very calm, blue lake.  There were lily pads close to the bank of the water and he could see frogs hopping from one to the other.   

How did I get here? Charlie thought? What is happening?

He heard a tiny voice “Swim over here young man”   

Where was it coming from? Charlie spun around in the water and he couldn’t believe his eyes. There on the lily pad sat a tiny man with white hair and a white beard. 

“Come over here, child” the voice said again.  It did appear to be coming from this tiny being.

Slowly, Charlie swam towards him.   He wasn’t afraid, but slightly wary. 

“Hello young man,” said the tiny man,  ‘My name is Cedric and I am be your elf guardian” 

Elf guardian?  What on earth is going on?  thought Charlie.  But he said nothing and let the man go on,

“I”ve been sent here by chief Elf to bring you a special message but I cannot talk to you when you are so much bigger than me.  So I am going to give you a little drink and you will shrink to my size”

“Huh?” was all Charlie could say.

“You mustn’t worry, young one” Cedric said.  “You will grow back all too soon and return to your family but first you must hear this message” ‘

“O.,,kay…” Charlie said, slowly. 

“We will begin instantly, we have no time to waste, your parents will be worried.”

“That’s a lie,” said Charlie. “They are too busy with Ted to care where I am” 

Charlie expected, almost hoped, that Cedric would tell him this was nonsense and of course his parents cared, but Cedric simply nodded sympathetically.

“Sit down, Charlie,”

“Wait, how do you know my name?”

“Never mind that, Sit down on the bank. Relax”   Charlie did as he was told and was handed a tiny cup that suddenly grew to normal size when he took it. 

“Wow!” gasped Charlie “How did you do that?”   Cedric winked and motioned for Charlie to take a sip and as he did, sure enough, Charlie shrunk to the same size, or maybe a bit smaller than Cedric and found himself sitting on a lily pad beside him. 

“Perfect,” said Cedric, “Now lets get on,  Do you recognise this baby?”  And before Charlie could ask “What baby?” an image of a baby appeared in the clear blue lake.  It was so clear and Charlie did recognise the baby, at least he thought he did. 

“It’s my brother”  he told Cedric. Rather embarrassingly, tears sprang to his eyes. He quickly wiped them away.  Cedric shook his head.

“No, Charlie,” he said. “that’s you,”

“But it looks like..”   Cedric smiled

“Exactly like your brother! two peas in a pod. Now look at this one”   Charlie was about to ask  this little elf man why he thought he and his brother were peas but now was not the time.  He saw another image in the lake.  It was his mum and dad.  And a baby again. Was it Ted or him? he wasn’t sure.  But then he looked closer and realised that, yes, the baby was him.  They were on holiday somewhere sunny on a beach..  His mum and dad looked a bit different. Younger maybe? But they looked happy. Very happy. They were hugging him. They looked like they really loved him.  That was then, Charlie thought. They didn’t love him now.   Charlie began to cry.   

“Dear, dear child”  Cedric said, handing him a little handkerchief “What on earth is the matter?”

“My mummy and daddy loved me then,” he explained.  He had no idea why he was suddenly  calling them mummy and daddy again. They’d been mum and dad since he’d turned six. 

“But that is simply not true!” said the kind little elf.  “When you were a baby they used to protect you from harm just as they try to protect your little brother. And you see they still do protect you.  But in a different way. They know that you are older now.  You still need protecting, don’t you. But not in the same way as little Ted.  Look at how much you can do now”  Charlie thought about this.

“i can run really fast, I can jump really high and I can swim on my own. I had lessons and everything”   Cedric smiled and nodded.

‘That’s right, Charlie,” he said “but your brother can’t do these things, he can’t even walk yet, can he?”

“He’s only a baby,” Charlie said, protectively.

“Exactly” Cedric said, “So you see, your parents do love you. They just know they need to guide Ted a little bit more at this stage.  And they know what a big boy you are. But you still have so much to learn, dear boy and that is what they are trying to do. Guide you in the right way in life”

Charlie nodded, slowiy beginning to understand.

“I’m missing my parents,”  he said “I must get back, they might tell me off for being away so long”

“They will not know that you have gone, Charlie. but that is because no time has passed in the real world.  When you go back you will have only just jumped into the pool.’

“Wow,” said Charlie once again. 

“Now I will give you your drink and you can grow back and swim back to the centre of the lake and then soon you will find yourself back with your family, enjoying your holiday.  Charlie sipped the drink that he was given and just as Cedric said, he grew back to his normal size. 

“Awesome!” he gasped. “thanks!”  Cedric smiled and waved to Charlie.  Charlie waved back and swam to the centre of the lake.   He bobbed his head under water and once again felt the gentle flow and then he was back in Benidorm, emerging from the water.   He caught his mum’s eye. She smiled

“Wow! What a jump Charlie!” she said.  Charlie grinned from ear to ear. He swam over to the toddler pool and climbed in, approaching his mum, giving her the biggest cuddle.   His mum kissed him on the head.  He released his mum and gently ruffled his brother’s blonde hair.

“I love my brother’ he said.

Jen Elvy

So there you have it.   Please let me know what you think. I hope you like it.  I will write many more, I’m sure. This is just the start.

I liked writing about a problem to which a child can relate and adding a fantasy element and I’m wondering whether to continue with a similar formula or set my stories entirely in a fantasy world.

Maybe I’ll do a bit of both but what I do know is I’ve gone fairyland mad and I’ve got a new board on Pinterest with some beautiful photos to inspire me.    I will also take some photos when out and about of scenes and landscapes that inspire me.

I want to continue with my poems and maybe write a rhyming story one day but for now, I’m all fired up to write children’s fiction too and I hope you will join me on my journey.

I leave you with this photo I took on our nature trail that was a great source of inspiration for this story and hopefully subsequent stories.

FullSizeRender

Until next time

Jen xx

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