Of motorbikes and men
This week's blog was going to be about how a simple encounter becomes a piece of writing. You may remember the hare I mentioned in my second blog - the magic of nature. Well, that sighting led to me writing a short poem about the vivid, pulsing mystery of life, but I'm not going to upload it here. Not today. Part of writing well is being honest - finding truth in words, or using words to find truth. Too often my own writing tips over into imitation rather than truthfulness. And in the face of the stark, cold fact of reality sometimes writing isn't enough.
I learned that well-known children's writer Alan Gibbons son was killed in motorbike crash this week. I don't know Alan really, except that our books have appeared in the same series for Collins, Read On for which he was a series consultant. We also both presented talks and workshops a couple of summers back for the National Literacy Trust for schools around the country, including, sadly Kensington Aldridge Academy, the one next to Grenfell Tower.
But my association - or should I say my son's - with Alan goes back much further. I remember Sam reading several of his novels as a young teen - Shadow of the Minotaur and The Lost Boys' Appreciation Society. Great, accessible books - a good read, but thoughtful too, the latter about boys growing up without a mother after a tragic car accident. I think Alan has a particular gift for understanding how boys think. How they are. Having sons himself no doubt played a large part in developing that understanding.
It is a cruel irony that someone so attuned to boys, sons, fathers should lose one of his own in such a way. In such times, poetry, fiction, art can sometimes seem irrelevant. I'm sure writing anything is the furthest thing from Alan's mind just now. But I suspect it'll also be his salvation in the difficult times ahead. My poem about the hare was really about how the everyday - the mere fact of something existing in nature - is magical. Losing what you take as commonplace, natural, everyday makes it all the harder to bear. So, perhaps my poem - which I'll upload next time around - wasn't so short on truth after all.