Archive for the ‘creative writing’ Category

Christmas Eve – a cautionary tale

April 6, 2014

Babess is a writer.  She’s always writing little stories, and I’ve given her an exercise book for her “home stories”, just like the ones she has for her stories at school.

This is one she wrote towards the end of last year, clearly taking some parental, um, “encouragement” to heart.

I’ve kept her spelling, but explained it where it might be necessary.

Christmis eve.

One night there was a gerl ho (who) didi’t go to bed her Mother called Santa and sed don’t do eny presints for the littil gerl so he didi’t gev eney present’s for her but he left a noet for her that sed be good but she thoht she hd been good all the time but she got it she didn’t go to bd so nexst Christmis she was good and she got a wond (wand), slepers (slippers) sollvorens (Sylvanian Families) and they all lived hapreley.

Lot’s of love from Babess.

© UpsideBackwards 2014.


November 19, 2012

Fainjin has discovered the exclamation mark.  His teacher was very excited by this, because he used it in his writing at school – appropriately – before they had even looked at exclamations in class.  He has noticed them while reading, and incorporated them into his writing repertoire all by himself.
Yesterday he spent some time drawing pictures to post to his cousins.  I encouraged him to write “a story” to go with them, but he elected to just write down what each picture was.

My favourite says, “on this picture is a deae spider and a flowr!”  (a dead spider and a flower).  Not mentioned is that the dead spider is on the point of a rocket.

I do wish he had written down a story to go with the picture though.  It must be quite a tale.

© UpsideBackwards 2012.

No tears in the writer, no tears in the reader

August 25, 2011

Pearl and I had errands to run this evening after her choir practice, so as a treat we ended up having dinner in a cafe.  It was very pleasant, a lively busy place with great food and lovely service, and we got to have a bit of a mother-daughter catch-up.

I heard about the book she’s reading (well, the best one out of all the books she’s reading – like me at the same age, she seems to have four or five going at once), what they’re doing in maths at school, how hard the current orchestra piece is, and what she wants to do at the weekend.

Then she started telling me about the book she’s writing.  She’s up to Chapter Two, but apparently Chapter One is only one page long so she hasn’t written as much as you might think.  But she’s already got another book in mind, one for young writers like herself – it sounds like a handbook of sorts.

At this point there was a bit of a lull in the cafe noise, just as she was telling me the sort of thing she wants to put in this second book.

“I think it was Robert Frost who said…”

In the crowded cafe, the next table was only a few inches away.  I saw the distinguished-looking diner next to her do a double-take and shoot her a startled glance.  I suppose there aren’t many 8-year-olds who would (knowingly) quote Frost.

© UpsideBackwards 2011.


August 17, 2011

We – along with the rest of New Zealand – have had crazy wild weather this week.  A “once in 50 years” weather event, several days of intense cold, hail, sleet, graupel and snow.   We’ve had lightning and thunder, heavy rain, bitterly cold gales and heavy seas.  The weather has been the top story for all the tv news programmes and the newspapers all week.

Where we live, the snow hasn’t settled, but it did snow, to the children’s great delight.  The hail did settle, at least until the rain melted it again:

That's me, struggling down the driveway on the ice

Pearl wrote about the storm:


Pure white, cold snow drifting, crisscrossing down to settle on the turf.  Wet, wet snow dropping on my glasses.  I can barely see the hills for the snow is so thick.  I see people, running, running across the turf laughing, shouting with joy seeing, watching the first snow in forty years.  Big and little snowflakes settling all over my hands, my sweatshirt, my feet.  Thinning, thinning, slowly stopping.


Hailstones falling on my arm

© UpsideBackwards 2011.

“Hey Mum, listen to this story!”

August 14, 2011

Fainjin had a cheeky grin on his face, and was bursting to tell me his story.

“Once upon a time there was a dinosaur…”

“Waitwaitwait!” I was already on the computer, so I scrambled to open a window I could type into.  “OK, go on.”

“Once upon a time a dinosaur slept all day and all night and he watched tv all day and all night and… [pause, chuckle, then the next bit comes out in a rush] he scrunched the whole book!”

Fainjin sat back, pleased with himself, his sudden literary seizure exhausted.  I immediately sent this work of genius around the family.  It seems our young man might follow in his big sister’s writing footsteps.

And already he has his first review.  Uncle G (his favourite, and this might be why) responded with the following:

“Taut, pared-down prose, encompassing two seemingly incompatible acts, thereby capturing the complexity of modern life. And a powerful conclusion. Very impressive, Fainjin.”

© UpsideBackwards 2011.

End of term, end of year

December 18, 2010

So, that’s that then.  School year 2010 is over.

Pearl will be in Year 4 next year, “Standard 2” for old people like me who still need to translate into the old NZ school system.  I have fond memories of Std 2, I had an excellent teacher (all my primary school teachers were outstanding, I was extremely lucky) and a great group of friends.  I hope Pearl will have a year like that.

She will be in a composite Year 4/5 class, which might be good for her in terms of extension and challenge, and she’s excited about her teacher, who is known for his love of literature and writing – very good news for her.

Also good news is that one of her steadiest friends will be with her.  They weren’t together this year because M is a year ahead – but they can be together in the composite class.  M was so excited when she found out, she met me at the door to Pearl’s classroom, having rushed straight there to share the good news.  She’s a lovely little girl, I really like her, so I’m pleased for them both.

I didn’t manage to get those maths worksheets after all, so I’ll be making up my own for us to work on together in the holidays.  I think we’ll do some “basic facts” work and then some fun extension stuff, maybe clock arithmetic…  We’re going to do more Latin, too, at Pearl’s request.  Today I got some books out of the library on Rome and modern Italy for her, so she can compare and contrast.  I think she thinks people in Rome still speak Latin and wear togas.

It’s not going to be all school-work, though, fun as that might be!  Pearl has a list of films she wants to see, craft that needs doing, and biscuits to bake.  I think we’ll probably take walks along the coast and go into the city to visit the observatory/planetarium once or twice too.  (I also need to clean this house top to bottom, there is dust everywhere and I’m blaming the builders!)

That can all start in a couple of weeks.  Christmas and family come first.  Time to kick back, relax, catch up with in-laws and cousins.  There are birthdays, anniversaries, and a wedding to celebrate.

Hooray for summer!

© UpsideBackwards 2010.


November 7, 2010

Pearl has worn me out this evening, with lots of tantrums and drama over every little thing and especially practising for her Christmas concert at the music school.  So it’s only fair that she write tonight’s post for me.

There was once a woman who liked grollrias.  She liked them so much that one day she went to live in the praire.  She was a kiwi but she knew some latin.

She knew enough latin to say “I am stplaya” in latin. Her name was latin which helped.

Next day she went to rome.  She oley need to say “ego sum staplaya*” to get a man to get the taxi going to the praire.  Once she was at the praire she  went to ispict her new house.

* “I am staplaya” in latin.  [Pearl’s own footnote]

One of the characters in her Latin textbook is Staphyla, I’m assuming Staplaya is a variant spelling…

Sadly, there are no further chapters on Staplaya’s adventures in her writing book.  I wonder whether she found any gorillas on the prairie, what her new house there was like, and how much a taxi from Ancient Rome to the prairie costs?

© UpsideBackwards 2010.

If Children Could Drive Cars

November 5, 2010

If Children Could Drive Cars…

I would feel scared Because they would’ent know how to and thered Be lot of crashes.  all the children would feel excited Because they were allowed to drive.  There would be lot’s of Beep Beep  Beeeep’s!  the childrens Mothers and Farthers would Feel angrey Because their children would Be crashing their cars.  Children would Be running Over pepele and yelling Sorry out the window.

By Pearl.  (A writing exercise for school; she told me she didn’t like this one because she didn’t think it was a good idea for kids to drive).

© UpsideBackwards 2010.

I wonder what he’d write?

March 31, 2010

The other day, Pearl and Fainjin were driving each other batty.  She decided a toy he had was “hers” (it had been hers, four years ago when it was age-appropriate) and snatched it from him, and, well, things escalated from there.

To break them up, I suggested she do some homework.  She’s meant to be writing poems this term, and this seemed like a good opportunity.  She gave me the hairy eyeball, but I pointed out that good poems describe something you’re passionate about – and she seemed pretty passionate about her little brother, so why didn’t she write about him?

Here’s the result:

Horibble little Brothers.

they won’t share they don’t care

they hit you they hurt you

they always hate you

So beware o beware because

they will always hate you!

they hide things they hate things

they brake things they make things

they make mess you have to clen up

So beware o beware Because

Little Brothers are Horibble!

(copyright, reproduced with kind permission of the author)

She was pleased with it – she was proud of using both rhyme and alliteration.  I really like the rhythm.  And by putting some of her poisonous feelings down on the page, she tamed them a little and they were able to tolerate each other’s company again.

Plus it was much quieter without them screaming at each other.

A logical conclusion

March 26, 2010

I was meeting the school principal for morning tea this morning – she’s available for social chat on Friday mornings – so Pearl gave me a piece of paper for her.  Pearl has been meeting the principal every so often to share her writing.  This paper was a “published” version of one of her latest efforts.  She has been experimenting with alliteration.

The text, which was brightly coloured and quite large, went something like this:

Patty panda ate 4 pizzas, 1 peach, 2 pears and a pumpkin. Poor Patty panda!

Underneath was a drawing of a rather spotty purple-and-yellow panda.

Without looking too hard, I duly presented it to the principal, who was very appreciative of Pearl’s effort and thoughtfulness.  She hung it up on her wall, and we both had a good look at it.  Then we both burst into laughter.

The caption under the panda, written in small letters, said “A pither of a panda throwing up”.

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