I get inspired at the Jacqueline Wilson exhibition

Tuesday, 27 May 2014

We're big fans of Jacqueline Wilson in our household, so for the bank holiday we took a trip to the Daydreams and Diaries exhibition at the Museum of Childhood in Bethnal Green.

Maisie loved it, Enid got bored, but the kid who liked it best of all was the little girl inside me.

'I had those books,' she exclaimed in glee seeing the recreation of Wilson's childhood bedroom complete with a shelf full of my old favourites - Little Women and What Katy Did plus lots of Enid Blyton.


'That's like me,' shouted my inner child, thrilled to see Wilson's old-fashioned school report in which she had merely 'average' for PE despite being rated 'good' and 'very good' for everything else.

'I used to read that,' said my inner child on seeing the display of Jackie magazines, at which Wilson had her first journalism job. Rather proudly I have every Jackie annual from 1976, collected from car boots sales in the late 80s, giving me an unusual amount of knowledge about the Bay City Rollers and David Essex.

I read with interest the letters between Wilson and her publisher Random House, showing all the changes they tactfully suggested, with her explanations and justifications scrawled in pen around them. It's a scenario all too familiar to me, as I regularly have to explain to my editor the reasons for focusing on or omitting certain details from my features. Seeing the process from an author's perspective was voyeuristically satisfying.

Her original manuscripts, written longhand in a selection of pretty notebooks with the plot notes jotted around the margins, are also on display. 'That's how I write,' trilled my inner child or maybe that was the adult me, I'm not sure. Either way I felt encouraged about my own scribbly efforts.
The exhibition really reminded me how much I enjoy writing. Since going to a writer's group a couple of months ago and vowing to go every week, I've returned precisely zilch times. My neglected novel attempt is now languishing lazily back in its familiar bedside drawer again. Not to say I haven't been writing, as I've jotted down several poems and the notepad on my iPhone is full of ideas, one of which is for a children's book.

After visiting this exhibition I'm feeling inspired that an ordinary girl who grew up in a council flat with not an old boys' club in sight, has had around 100 books published, won multiple awards and been the children's laureate. The secret of her success? The exhibition states: 'Jacqueline is very disciplined and writes every day even if she doesn't feel like it at first.'

It's a great exhibition for encouraging children to follow their dreams...and maybe some big kids too.
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