The business of being a writer is riddled with doubt - I still struggle to call myself one. I haven't 'always written', at school I found it hard, I didn't think I had an imagination. So when we decided to share some juvenilia at our latest SCBWI Southampton Goal Setting Supper, I said I didn't really have any.

The only thing I could remember was a letter I wrote to the paper when I was 13, a youthful protest against the demolition of an old house on the edge of town.  So I searched for the cutting, I had a vague memory of coming across it somewhere fairly recently but I couldn't remember where. First stop, drawer of treasures - entirely cutting-less. Maybe it was in the loft? But rummaging around up there would have taken hours - who knows what curiosities I would have found to soak up the whole day. More accessibly, all I could find was a little box of letters, scraps and guilt-inducing notelets from my mum, no newspaper cuttings at all.

Helen, Ken and Lorraine had very entertaining examples of their early work with great you should be a writer when you grow up comments. To be honest, I was a bit jealous. So when I got home, I had another look. Dust was blown from top shelf boxes, I still eschewed the loft but after a brave decision to go through the guilt-inducing notelets in case the cutting had got itself wrapped inside of one, I did find this:

My mum's observations circa 1963
I don't remember this little scene, I don't remember my mum making notes and I don't remember "writing",  ever. But I guess I did.

You-can-do-the-maths years later having recently found too much imagination but still hoping for that external affirmation that comes with publication, this was a little prod with a smug pokey finger. "See – destiny!" I don't know about destiny*  but while making me a bit sad, my mum's observational notes did give me some sense of maybe it's meant to be.

I think I must have imagined the letter in the paper.

This week, wasn't Sue Hyams' post on research a great way to round off September? Many of us are accomplished procrastinators; it's no surprise that it's the perfect theme for Jion's humour. Research  (along with fruitless searching for newspaper cuttings) can be one of our strategies but Sue has the answer - when you hear your story calling, write.

I spent a disciplined ten minutes or so with another excellent Blog Break and it was great to say 'Hooray for Honorary Dave!', rounding off the talented people recognised by The Margaret Carey Scholarship.

#scbwicon preparations are well in gear - I loved the excitement in Natascha's RA post last Sunday. The Illustrators' Review 121 deadline has been extended to 18th October - read about Alex Wilson's great 121 experience last year and Mike Brownlow gave us the first of our Conference Keynote Interviews with Nick Butterworth, no less - what a great interview! I can't believe Percy's Dad is coming to Winchester! And we're looking forward to this year's innovative Pulse events aimed at the published among us.

Hope you've seen the exciting new Slush Pile Challenge, up today - thank you to Chitra and Darley Anderson's Clare Wallace. If you leave entering until the Conference you'll be too late - competition deadline 2nd November.

Coming soon we have another podcast with the amazing-talent-spotting Brenda Gardner of Piccadilly Press, another agent confidential, this time with Jo Unwin and as October is also the month of The Big Draw, a wonderful post on the 'anatomy of a monster' from creator of monsters, Nicola L. Robinson. I know we're only just into October but Paul is masterminding another advent calendar so illustrators dust off your seasonal art work. We'd love to see it if you're happy to share it!

One more thing. Something very exciting is happening with Words & Pictures in the near future - we're getting a wonderful new editor! I'm going to try to clear some headspace to fulfil my destiny* and over the next month or so I'm handing over to….

Well, you'll have to wait until next week to find out who, but members keep an eye out for emails from Natascha.

Have fun!

Jan Carr

*'destiny' sometimes confused with 'density' as in the 1985 classic Back to the Future when George McFly tries to ask Lorraine Baines to 'The Enchantment Under the Sea' Dance only to be eclipsed by his son Marty. Just love that film.

Jan Carr is the editor of Words & Pictures. Her fiction is all over the place, she blogs occasionally and loves to write in magenta. You can contact her at


  1. Superb post as ever, Jan. Ah, the writer's life. I wouldn't want any other now.

  2. What a brilliant note from your mum. You are going to be a hard editor to top.

    1. Thank You, Sue. I know - I'd had that little pile of notes ever since she died which was 26 years ago but never read them!

  3. We're going to miss you Jan!

  4. You've been brilliant, Jan. Done such an awesome job! Thank you.

    1. Thank You, Larisa!
      ( W&P has a brilliant team:)

  5. Thanks, Jan. You'll be a hard act to follow!

    1. Thank You, Linda!
      That's so kind but I think new Ed is more than able;)

  6. What a lovely note to have from your mum! Thanks for all your hard (more than hard) work with W&P. Good luck with the destiny. xx

    1. Thank you, Sue!

      I know exactly what you mean Alison:)
      I did actually write a book in the first year when W&P was at it's busiest. This year I've done next to nothing because I think I've used W&P as an excuse to some extent. So no excuses now on!

  7. That's a lovely thing to find. Onward to your destiny!!!


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