I sarted this week by going back to school. I don’t mean that in an American Frat Movie kind of way. No beer guzzling or pretending to be a teenager again (please, God no). What I mean to say is that I went to my son’s school to talk to his class about writing.
When asked if I would do it, my initial reaction was close to horror. One five year old boy is tough enough, but seventeen of them? All in one place? First thing on a Monday morning? And, besides, I write books for grown-ups; books that have sex ‘n’ death ‘n’ sweary stuff ‘n’ all that. But, you know, teachers can be very persuasive (aren’t we all programmed to do what they tell us?) and there wasn’t an opt out clause, so I went along – as instructed.
I told them a little bit about fiction/non-fiction, in easy-to-understand terms, and we talked about where ideas come from, and about characters. And the first question one little boy asked?
‘How long does it take to write a book?’
Well, I thought that was a pretty good question; the kind of question I’m asked when I do events with adults. Mind you, this little boy reckoned it shouldn’t take more than about three days, so the expectations were different even if the question wasn’t. But, with that question I was caught off-guard, expecting too much, and when we got to generating idea for characters – which, I said, ‘could even be an animal such as a dog, if you like’ – the fun started. We had dogs drinking wee, dogs playing football, dogs going for a walk, dogs eating poo, some stern looks from the teacher, some surprised looks from me, a bit of nose picking from the boys . . .
Actually, it was good fun. There was a lot to smile about, there were some great children, they were very well behaved and pretty much exactly what I expected. And they’re five year old boys – what kind of world would we be living in if they didn’t think bodily functions were funny?
And do you know what? If they ask me to go back, I reckon I could be persuaded.