I have started a novel for 9+ years. So I thought I would test the water out today and I passed it to a 10-year-old.
My beloved first two chapters were handed over to him like a prized antique and he smiled at me over the rims of his glasses as he read the title. The butterflies went bananas in my stomach as I felt like a 14-year-old student in Higher English. I always hoped that my teacher really, really liked what I had just handed in. You could never tell with Miss McVay though, she rarely said anything until she had read it for herself and her scowl was always there to greet you. She always handed back homework with the highest mark first – in all my time there she only ever approached me first once – it was a short story I had written about monkeys in the zoo, the dialogue was one of them narrating, talking about the humans peering into the cage. reverse psychology at its finest – well, maybe.
This time there were no grubby marks or chocolate stains – wait, *hands up* there was a small chocolate stain. Sorry.
I couldn’t sit still – this was my captive audience after all. He asked if I was OK – I said yes trying not to read the words I knew off by heart over his shoulder. That can be very annoying. Unable to help myself, I sat on my hands and waited for him to say anything. He read the whole thing out loud. the first time anyone has ever done that while I’m in the room. Amazing – he didn’t even struggle with any of the words either. Big tick in my book.
It was a bit like hearing my Scottish twang on a video – you cringe inside waiting for it to stop as I sat there with my eyes screwed tightly shut. Surprisingly, my shoulders eventually relaxed and I enjoyed the ambience as he continued to narrate my story.
And then he did it. He laughed. Not just a wee chuckle, a full-grown chortle that came from the pit of his stomach. He even said out loud ‘That bits really funny, isn’t it?’ AND ‘Oh no!’ at one of the peril-filled chapters. He even suggested some very valid points and said he would buy it as he wanted to know what happened next and could he read more! Could he read more!
Brilliant – my job here is done. I had to stop myself from hugging him, which is a huge no-no as he isn’t one of my children. But all the same, my smile was the size of the Forth Road Bridge as I followed him back to his classroom.
Just one child, I only need one child to pick up my book, peruse the back page and think ‘Yeah – this looks cool’.
The next generation of readers await our call – it’s up to us to press the right numbers and wait for the connection to kick-in.