As anyone who knows me even vaguely will know, I’m busy writing book 4. Not as easy as it seemed when I first started out, but now the story is clear in my head and I can’t wait to race to the climactic chapters. How does it feel to be writing a book? Well, it feels a lot like this: Meg Rosoff: Here’s How I Write.
She’s so right in every detail. I’m not sure if I’m still lost in the wood or reaching the wide, smooth road at the end. I think I’m in the middle, but I can see where the road is if I can just hack my way through to it …
Meg Rosoff is an amazing writer. How I Live Now is one of those books you’ll never forget. (She is also, by the way, a very nice person. One of the very best things about being a writer is meeting other writers. Someone in funky glasses comes up to you and says ‘Hi, I’m Meg. Have you got a glass of wine?’ and you go, ‘Yes, thanks, I’m fine’ and you look beyond the funky glasses and think ‘Meg‘? As in Rosoff? Oh my God.’ These are some of my favourite moments.)
Meg started a great discussion on her blog a while ago about ‘pink books’ – or rather, it tuned into that. Meg’s point was that it does books for girls no favours when their authors are asked ‘Shoes or handbags?’ As opposed to perhaps ‘First person present or traditional narrative voice?’ The discussion made a lot of people very cross, and made other people, like me, think a bit more about what we read, and what we write.
My conclusion was that books don’t have to have a strong moral point. Books are there to entertain and transport you and sometimes, that’s more than enough. But I want my books to do more. I want them to get my readers thinking. Because I’m writing for girls (and some boys) at one of the most important and exciting times in their lives – when they’re forming opinions that will shape them and their decisions for decades to come. It’s so exciting. Such an honour to be a part of their world. Ted, in my latest book, has to confront some difficult moral choices. I’m so proud of her and I hope that one day she’ll help girls her age to be as brave, and true to themselves, as she is.
I’m grateful to Meg for kicking off the debate that got me thinking about what I do.
And by the way, it’s probably shoes.