Long before the existence of Blogs, long before I had heard the term, I had Writer’s Block. Every morning in my Church of England junior school we had to write in our news books, dinky little notebooks with lined and plain pages; one side for script, the other to draw a picture. One Monday morning I said to my teacher ‘I can’t think what to write.’
Did you spend all weekend in a cardboard box? Was his reply.
Sometimes it was easy, one morning at assembly there was an incident. One boy wrote for his news Tony was sick in assembly. There was a lurid picture, the puddle of vomit had become a lake.
Parents’ evening was the only chance mothers and fathers had to see what their little darlings had written. Apparently I wrote regularly that Mum and Dad had moved the furniture around at the weekend. My mother claimed the teachers were nosy and wanted to know what went on in our homes; she was amused to meet another mother who was mortified. Her child had written Mummy went out dancing with John’s Daddy, her explanation was that their respective spouses did not like dancing…
If we finished our news book we could not be idle, we had to quietly get on with a dictionary exercise, but I enjoyed doing that. Only when that was finished could you do free reading. One time my friend had a new plan. On my unescorted one and a half mile walk to school I would call for her on the way. Her mother would wave us off, once out of sight we would slow down. If we were late for assembly we had to go straight to the classroom and get on with writing our news; thus having an advantage over the rest of the class. I did feel guilty about this, our parents didn’t know, the teacher perhaps guessed we did it deliberately, but God, being Omnipotent, was sure to know we were absent from hymns and prayers.
Scripture lesson was a better opportunity for creative writing. We had a similar little exercise book, but horizontal. We would write that morning’s bible story in our own words on one page and draw a picture on the other. Illustrations were easy, flat roofed houses and people in long robes were simple to draw. I can’t remember how much I elaborated the story, but even then I felt there was not enough back story and character development in The Bible. Maybe if the disciples had kept a news book there would have been more detail in the Gospels.
The first part of my novel Quarter Acre Block is inspired by my four years at junior school.