According to the well-worn saying, there is a novel in every one of us.
I’ve long doubted it, although like most people who write for a living I’ve harboured a desire to pen a novel that people would enjoy reading.
It’s never come to anything, of course.
But over the past few years, I’ve thought about how I could use my experience – eight years and counting – of reviewing children’s books for The Birmingham Post (and occasionally Carousel, the magazine of the Federation of Children’s Book Groups) to write something for youngsters.
Writing for children isn’t an easy option – picture books are surprisingly sophisticated and complex things and some of the best books I’ve ever read are aimed at teens – and I began to formulate a few ideas.
I’d definitely not seen the subject before and knew that I could make it work. It would be unashamedly aimed at girls aged seven-ten and on a subject that I know a bit about.
A few weeks ago, I started a draft – and restarted and restarted and restarted (it’s not easy, this writing lark) – and began to think quite hard about how the character would develop, what the storyline would be.
I was quite pleased and while I appreciated I was a long way from getting published, being accepted by a publisher or even knowing if the subject was commercially viable, it gave me enough to start on it earnestly.
The postman arrived today – armed with envelopes of books from publishers, as per usual, that hope I’ll review their latest children’s books – and I opened the first one.
You could have knocked me down with a feather: it was the first of three books on the same subject I’d thought about and even the storyline is similar to the one I’d begun.
I’m absolutely crestfallen. Back to the drawing board …
(And, no, I’m not telling you what it is … I may adapt my idea!)