why does jacqueline wilson like writing books
is one of Britain's most popular children's authors. Her latest book, Vicky Angel, has just been published. "I was born in Bath, but we moved to south London when I was a year old. I had no brothers or sisters and from an early age I became one of those weird children who live in their imaginations. I would sit in corners nattering to myself, and after I learnt to write I used to fill exercise books full of stories. For inspiration I would cut out photos of girls from pattern books and stick cardboard on the back to turn them into paper dolls, each with its own personality. "My first school was Lee Manor Infants, though I remember very little about it, except crying at school dinners. After a year we moved to Kingston, where I went to the Latchmere Infants and Junior School. It was hard at first as everyone had already been there a year and had made friends, but after a while I came to love it. My favourite teacher was Mr Townsend. He was kind and good-looking and I had a bit of a crush.
He was encouraging about my writing and painting. "I passed my 11+ at the second attempt and went to Coombe Girls' School in New Malden, which was run by a terrifying headteacher, Miss Hazlett, who used to take any breaches of discipline, such as not wearing a beret on the way home, immensely seriously. I was reasonably good at English, which was taken by a Miss Pierce. She was not one to praise or flatter unduly, but she taught us essay structure and had a way of gently pointing you in the way of authors worth reading. "I passed five or six O-levels; I didn't want to to stay on to do A-levels. Had I known about sixth-form colleges or techs, I would have continued. I then spent a year at secretarial college before I replied to an ad for teenage magazine writers in the Evening Standard; I sold my very first story for three guineas, then wrote a few more, before being offered a full-time job at the magazine.
I guess I was just very lucky. "
once wrote in a LettБs School-GirlБs Diary БIt would be so wonderful to be a proper writer when IБm grown up. Imagine what bliss it would be to stay at home all day and just write! Б Well, IБm a writer now, proper or improper, but sadly I donБt often get to stay at home all day and write. I meet journalists, I go to endless meetings, I do charity work, I talk at festivals, I take part in conferences, I lecture at universities, I visit ill children, I open libraries, I talk on panels, I give interviews on radio and television, and I judge all kinds of competitions. ItБs all very interesting and enjoyable, if a bit nerve-racking at times, but itБs ultra time-consuming. ItБs difficult managing to produce two full-length books each year. I cope by writing early every morning Б even Christmas morning. I donБt get up that early. I feel exhausted simply thinking about a writer like, starting to write at 5. 30 am every day, completing 3,000 words in three hours before marching off to do a full dayБs work at the Post Office.
I donБt even set my alarm, but my cat and my dog are very good at waking me up. I sort them out, make a cup of coffee, go back to bed, prop myself on my pillows and start typing on my laptop. I donБt reread yesterdayБs work, I just get stuck into the story straight away. The first couple of sentences are a struggle. IБm still tense when IБve done a paragraph. But then somehow my imagination takes over and IБm in a different world. I become my main character, scarcely aware that my own fingers are tapping away as I experience everything through her eyes. If IБve got a lot on during the day I let myself off after a mere 500 words, roughly half an hourБs work. If IБve got time or thereБs a deadline looming I write for an hour and am happy with a thousand words.
ItБs a very modest amount. When I was in my 20s IБd then go on to write at least another couple of thousand words of a magazine story, simply to pay the bills. (They paid by the word in those long-ago days, so my stories were always very long. ) However, come to think of it, I probably write that much answering emails and letters in the evenings nowadays, before the magic time when I relax with a good box set and a glass of wine. I might not write much during the day, but IБm always thinking about my current book while walking the dog, sitting on trains, trailing round shops, and waiting to perform. I always go to sleep thinking about my characters Б and theyБre there in my head when I wake up, ready to write again. The inaugural Jacqueline Wilson childrenБs writing competition run by Penguin Random House is open for entries from children aged 7-12 years with a closing date of Friday 6 May. Visit for details.
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