Winter – A Writing Wonderland

November is always a bleak month with grey rain heralding All Saints Day, a sombre reminder of our own mortality. But then there is Guy Fawkes and Diwali and a surprise invitation to  Awaz FM radio for an  interview with Manjulika Singh on my children’s book, ‘Vikings and Skylarks on Cumbrae’. This gave me the chance to go down memory lane…..teaching English as a Second Language to Asian children who spoke little English in the early 1980s.   We had fun using stories of Rama and Sita to make a huge frieze that was illustrated with mendhi patterns and displayed around educational establishments nationally.
It was lovely to be asked about writer’s tips.  I hope I gave good advice: that writing is a discipline;  if you have the urge - scratch it;  ten minutes each day, on notes in smartphone on whatever subject you have the urge to write about; don’t worry about punctuation or grammar, just get it down;  look over it at end of each week and spend 2 hours refining it; then you will be surprised how quickly you will build up a body of work;  join a writing group; let others read your work;  get feedback; submit to publishers or the Scottish Association of Writers;  think about genre, styles and self-publishing on kindle. New York Times best sellers are full of authors who began by self-publishing through Kindle or Wattpad.
Visiting schools for Book Week Scotland was a highlight.  Reading, writing and drama workshops from P4 – P7 reminded me of how enthusiastic and receptive children are to the written word. They engaged with the characters Moranna and Sten, they considered the issues they faced with the impending Battle of Largs and they predicted a satisfactory ending.  As well as this, they reflected on the rich Viking/Scots legacy that is on our doorstep.
Some items from the Galloway Hoard
At Bearsden Hub, I  attended a talk by Andrew Nicholson, the archaeologist on the Galloway Hoard, a £1.5 million trove found by a metal detectorist in a farmer’s field. It showed the cultural fusion between Anglo Saxons/ Celts/ Vikings in the years 900AD. There was even a beautifully decorated vessel with a lid thought to be from Persia – “a vessel of kings” as Andrew said. There was something very special about this hoard, all buried in a hurry, wrapped in textiles, possibly linen, and placed at the entrance gate of a settlement.  Someone thought they could go back and retrieve it, but they never did. There must be plenty more hoards like this still to be found in the Ayrshire coast.  I must get a metal detector for Christmas!
Further info on the Galloway Hoard can be found at: National Museum of Scotland (includes education pack) or at  National Geographic

So thank you to the schools, teachers, staff, pupils and radio presenters who helped make this dreich time of year so memorable,  and of course Book Week Scotland for creating the focus on reading and writing and the appreciation of a good story - or as the Vikings would say, a good saga. 

If you are interested in a school visit for reading, drama or writing workshops click this link: Drop Me A Line 

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