Here’s what I know…


Here’s what I know…

I hadn’t lain next to my six-year-old for a long time, because this is the year she became a Big Girl, and learnt to take herself to bed. Beside me, she whispers stories to herself. Urgent. Animated. Dialogue rapid and varied, as she swings between characters. Her narrator voice, too, is strong.
‘Go to sleep,’ I urge. ‘School tomorrow.’
But, she carries on, without a pause. Suddenly, she stops. Then I realise. She was telling herself a story to help herself sleep. The girl who never easily slept. Who feared sleep – dreaded sleep, because it took so long to arrive. The girl who learnt to whisper stories that form into dreams.

Here’s what I know…

A littler girl, my three-year-old, spends ten or so minutes getting dressed. She needs long socks. But the right kind of long. She needs big shoes. But black, and bigger. She needs sticking-out plaits, nothing less than horizontal. I do my best to meet her Pippi requirements.
‘Annika,’ she asks her big sister through the day, ‘does Pippi like bananas?’
‘Yes,’ says Annika. So Pippi eats a banana.

‘Annika, does Pippi like riding bikes?’
‘Yes,’ says Annika. So Pippi rides a bike.
‘Annika, does Pippi like broccoli?’
‘Yes,’ says Annika. So Pippi eats broccoli, and I smile over the top of my three-year-old’s head at ‘Annika’. Thank you, I say with my eyes, and she nods in an understanding way.

Here’s what I know…

While Gregor paints houses, I relax into days with my kids. I am soaking up time with them while I have them. Before my eldest is at school full time, and while my youngest is still at home. I literally can’t get enough of them.
Today, though, one is at a birthday party, and the other is at school. I have been at home since 8.30 writing. It is now nearly 7pm. I took a break for lunch, and a run, and now a blog. But those hours have been time enough to lose myself in a new manuscript.
I have always written, and studied a little bit of creative writing at university. Yet I still feel like such a novice. So I have been reading books about writing, critically reading every children’s book I can, attending workshops and doing online courses. There is still so much more I need to know, but even reading manuscripts I worked on a few weeks ago, I realise how much I am learning. And need to learn.
In the last three weeks, I’ve started three different manuscripts. I get so lost in each one, plot, characters and story forms, then a new voice leaps into my head while I am riding my bike, and a whole new outline starts to emerge. I am sticking to the one I am working on today, though, until it’s finished. The story is captivating enough to keep me going. I love the characters. A boy who talks to his resident tortoise, the only one in his life who truly understands him. A mother who blindly follows her criminal husband. A little girl, who blindly follows her new friend, knowing that everything will work out in the end.
Words drip and drip and drip, and it’s such a 
pleasure to write. My daughter needs stories to sleep. I need stories to fill my day.

But maybe we all do.

  • Maybe we all do. Beautiful writing Zanni. I love the losing of oneself in the writing. A whole day for it is wonderful.

    • Thank you Dani. Yes, it’s certainly a luxury, and I am grateful! Hope you are well x

  • How beautiful is it to lose yourself in writing, when that time just flows… I’ve had little snippets of that lately and it’s been rather amazing. You have such a gift with words Zanni – enjoy that blissful writing time. Hope you and your girls are wonderful xx

    • Thank you my dear. It’s a precious time. Glad you are having moments too! Treasure them! xx

  • Beautiful.