Saturday, January 21, 2012

Inspiration for Writing

I’m told that I’m a hoarder, and I can’t deny that I love collecting things – particularly small things. As I told Sarah Davis, illustrator of Anna Branford’s ‘Violet Mackerel’ books, and she posted on her blog, I started when I was a child by asking friends and relatives if they had anything small that they could let me have for my ‘museum’, which was a special drawer. They gave me some amazing things – but since then, I’ve also bought items. I’m always surprised how little you have to pay for some ancient objects either in stores or through online auction sites. For less than $15, I bought a 4th century Roman stylus that was used to write on wax tablets (wax-lined trays) by ...well, who do you think?

After a message was received in a tablet, the flat end of the stylus was used to burnish the wax surface so that it could be written on again - recycled wax.

Putting such an object into a child’s hand, or that of an adult, can be a powerful inspiration for the imagination. I can do that at workshops and presentations, but why don’t schools develop their own collections? I’m sure children and parents would be pleased to be involved in fundraising for such a purpose.

This is an Elizabeth I half groat, first used by someone between 1558 and 1603. What could you have used it to shop for, or pay for, at that time? Under what circumstances might you have received it?

On my Writing for Children website, you’ll find many more workshop ideas on the ‘Visits’ page.

Peter Taylor


Dale harcombe said...

I'm sure you must have lots of ideas for stories and characters amongst your hoarded finds.

Suzanne said...

Great post. Loved the idea that these objects can spark discussion and inspiration for anyone who touches them. Very tactile.

I am following your blog. Perhaps you would like to follow mine.

Peter Taylor - Author and Illustrator said...

Many thanks for visiting, Dale.

Yes, I really want to work on my YA, honestly I do ...but when I was looking for an object to photograph to send Sarah, I came across a small seed with an elephant inside that my uncle had brought home from India after the War. On researching the folklore behind it, you've guessed, a new story has now been written and is sitting ready for an edit and goodness knows what destiny.

I love writing fiction, but there are a lot of people more imaginative than I am. I'm always amazed what plots people come up with after handling objects like these.

All best wishes and hope the words are flowing,


Peter Taylor - Author and Illustrator said...

Thanks, Suzanne.

Yes, it really can work as inspiration.

Love your blog and will be pleased to follow it. I'll definitely be trying to keep 'Chocolate Cake Day' on January 27th.

All best wishes