Multi-award winner, former Children’s Laureate, charity founder, OBE recipient for services to literature and supreme teller of tales, Michael Morpurgo suggested the title of this post himself.
Speaking at the Lincoln Drill Hall as part of the Lincoln Book Festival at the end of September, the author of more than 100 books was giving advice on becoming a writer in response to audience questions.
As well as joking about being good at lying – and that that would be the line that the local press would pick up on – Morpurgo also had other suggestions to share.
To live life, listen, learn, travel, meet new people and experience as much as you can was his most heartfelt guidance.
He also recommended keeping a diary or journal of sorts – not necessarily a detailed account of the day but just one or two sentences everyday about something, be it an event, a conversation or an image, that had left an impression. And not to worry about spelling or grammar or punctuation, but to just get it down on the page.
It was advice I’d love my son to hear in future years. Earlier the same day as the event he had referred to himself as an author and, whilst he may currently need extra support with literacy, it certainly hasn’t dampened his desire to tell stories – which, after all, was an oral tradition to begin with.
A former teacher, Morpurgo honed his talent in the classroom when he discovered that making up his own stories to tell to his pupils was an even more effective way of engaging them than reading those of other writers and clearly his storytelling prowess stretches to both page and spoken tales.
The sell out audience – which included a good smattering of those “dreaded Year 6s” – had bought their tickets on the basis of their love of his books and were rewarded by a spellbinding evening of verbal narration of the factual and fictional, embellished and merely hinted at, extraordinary and everyday that have been gleaned from his lifetime and the lifetimes of those he has encountered along the way. He even further treated the theatre-goers to a closing rendition of Only Remembered from War Horse, encouraging them to sing-along too.
One of the first speakers to appear at the Lincoln Book Festival some years ago, let’s hope he’ll return to speak at a future event again even sooner. I’d certainly like the minis to have the chance to hear him when they’re a little bit older.
Today is World Teachers’ Day and this year’s theme is “The right to education means the right to a qualified teacher”. “This theme was chosen to mark the 70th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (1948), where education is recognised as a key fundamental right. A right that cannot be fulfilled without qualified teachers.” Hands up all those who would have liked to have been in Michael Morpurgo’s classroom!