Tuesday, 11 August 2015

Writing - It isn't always easy!

There are millions of people like me producing books and hoping for literary recognition. We strive daily to find the best way to put down words in an order that will be attractive to as wide an audience as possible. However, even the most successful authors didn't always have it easy and even afterwards the books they produced were vilified for a range of reasons. August 11th 1897 was the birthday of Enid Blyton and I've been looking at her experience.

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Enid Blyton (1897 - 1968)

In a number of respects Enid was a blogger long before blogging was even possible. She wrote a range of articles on education, natural history, fantasy, mystery stories and biblical narratives. Her first book was a 24 page publication of poetry entitled Child Whispers but she is better known for Noddy, Famous Five and the Secret Seven. At the height of her writing prowess she was producing 50 books a year on top of the many articles she wrote for newspaper and magazine. Enid wrote from her unconscious mind rather than planning meticulously, typing her stories as events unfolded before her. She wrote so much that she was often accused of employing an army of ghost writers a situation which she vigorously denied.

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Even many years after Noddy appeared on the scene, and had proven popular with great numbers of people across the world, it was banned by the BBC. Literary critics during the fifties and sixties, became concerned with Blyton's unchallenging writing and the nature of the themes of her books, particularly Noddy. Some libraries and schools banned her works, which the BBC had refused to broadcast from 1930 - 1950, because they said that her work lacked literary merit. Her books have been also described as elitist, sexist, racist, xenophobic and at odds with the post war liberalism. Even so, since her death in 1968, they remain best sellers.

She once described her writing style as follows,
I shut my eyes for a few minutes, with my portable typewriter on my knee – I make my mind a blank and wait – and then, as clearly as I would see real children, my characters stand before me in my mind's eye ... The first sentence comes straight into my mind, I don't have to think of it – I don't have to think of anything.
I wish I found it that simple! 

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For those of us who are striving for recognition it is interesting that Enid Blyton became noticed after winning the Saturday Westminster Review writing competition with an essay. Her articles then became more attractive to magazines and newspapers until she eventually had Child Whispers published.
I have entered the occasional competition but not frequently enough or wide ranging enough to achieve any success. On the other hand I am not so driven by the need for success. Entering competitions is obviously a way 'in' but the important thing for me is to keep writing. I hope that eventually the quality of my work will have improved enough to speak for itself.

God Bless