The sky's the limit

One day when I was ten years old, our teacher, Mrs Allen, gathered us in to the carpeted corner of the room, and sat us down on plastic pint-sized chairs to listen carefully.

With several pots of colourful pens in the centre of the floor, Mrs Allen placed in each of our small hands a crisp, clean sheet of mathematical squares. 'Now. I want you to colour-in as many shapes as you can think of: Squares, rectangles, hexagons, triangles. Off you go.'

Off we went, losing ourselves in the concentrated scratch of felt-tips. After an industrious while, Mrs Allen wandered around to check our handy-work, and stopped abruptly by my side. 'Oh Nancy, that's not what I meant at all.'

I can still feel the sting of shame on my face. What had I been thinking? Mrs Allen tutted and moved on, leaving me to consider the stupid squared off letters I had created, now shouting out in full inglorious technicolour from the page: I love Barry.

To me, the carpeted story-corner was a place of make-believe, where anything could happen. Where I could colour-in my love for Barry, or anyone else for that matter. The reality was very different. Not only had I let myself down, I'd scribbled willy-nilly all over the sanctity of triangles and squares, of mathematical things done properly.

And yet, now that I'm a fully-fledged grown-up child, I can sit in the story-corner and create whatever I like. I don't have to do mathematical shapes. I can fold the paper into an aeroplane, or colour it orange and make confetti. Creating stories is all about allowing yourself the freedom to explore. There are no boundaries to the limits of your imagination. There is only the willingness to go forth and see what you might discover. Go on, go on. What have you got to lose?

Don't forget:

On Monday, Gemma Cooper from the Bent Agency opened up the first Slush Pile Challenge of the year. Writers are invited to submit the opening or scene of a novel where your main character experiences something new, something challenging – aimed at MG (8-12 year olds). Entries by 31st January.

On Tuesday, Nick highlighted the essential qualities required in this business: perseverance, the ability to set your own deadlines, courage to self-publish, creative whimsy, the fight to save what's good for us, and positivity.

On Wednesday, Nicky Schmidt invited another debut author to share the story of their creative journey. Krysten Lindsay Hager talks of learning an important lesson - how it's not what your book can do for you, it's what your book can do for others.

On Thursday, Gill James gave us the low-down on what went on during the NW creative get together in John Ryland's Library. If you need inspiration and ideas for your own group, look no further than here.

On Friday, we were introduced to the featured illustrator of the month, Sarah Palmer. A fabulous story of perseverance in searching for the right creative fit, and a wonderful array of beautifully illustrated and unusual characters. Sarah's tip: Don't be afraid of experimenting. Here here, Sarah.

On Saturday, debut author Katherine Bassford talked about perseverance, and how it pays off but not necessarily in the way you expect!

Look forward to:

Monday: Ask a Picture Book Editor - looking at picture-book illustration
Tuesday: Nick's splendid pick of the blogs
Wednesday: Proofreading tips: Anagrams
Thursday: Network news: South-East Scotland group share the delights of their last meeting of 2014

Nancy Saunders is the new Editor of W&P. You can find some of her short stories here, and on Twitter @nancyesaunders


  1. Love your idea of colouring it orange, ripping it up and making confetti! Here's to doing things differently this year and letting your creativity take over... Happy New Year!

  2. Oh, those teachers who tore our young dreams apart, and the few who truly nurtured . . . Enjoy your freedom, Nancy!

  3. As coincidence would have it, my intention this year is to do things differently. Begone boring geometry!


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