Reflections On . . . Playing With the Pen

By James Groome

Updated / Thursday, 26 June 2022 11:32

YOU share a room with two brothers and you’re all running and gambolling before bed because going to sleep seems so boring. Your overworked mother just wants to make sure you don’t wake up with bags under your eyes but you refuse to settle down. How do you think she is going to solve this problem?


SHE takes out a book and reads a bedtime story. Maybe it’s a fairytale or one of those template stories where you have your name inserted and it reads like it’s about you, but either way you’re in a state where you’re more willing to accept the concept of sleep.

EVER since people started making specific noises when they saw either a bear or a tasty looking avocado, we started to develop language. Language led to writing, and writing led to books.

FAST forward to 2005 and suddenly I exist. I started with all those learning reader books, you know the ones, all the pages have pictures and one paragraph.

IN my primary school every classroom had a bookshelf you could borrow from. At the time I only read books with pictures, this includes the Mr Men series and a story about someone who could gain all the knowledge of a book by eating it.

(I bit that same book afterward. I didn’t learn anything except that tasting books is a bad idea.)

ONE day I decided that drawing a book about myself would be cool, so I drew a picture of me in a blue superhero outfit and created an evil vine creature named “Tickle Vines” for me to face. My alter ego won, just so you know.

NEXT was “The Adventure of Omar,” a story about my German Shepard gaining superpowers and defeating an evil scientist in a Captain Underpants inspired flip-o-rama sequence.

MY teachers had me write stories on occasion as part of schoolwork. I made a grand total of two stories I can remember. A story about a pig in a top hat and a sequel to “The Adventure of Omar” where this time Omar fights a giant slime.

FIVE years later and Coronavirus causes a lockdown that leaves everyone with nothing better to do other than… Um… Well I spent fifteen minutes everyday practising touch typing on my laptop. Now I can type at high speeds without looking at the keyboard.

AT fifteen I wrote the first draft of a story called “A Grimm Tale Of Wolves.” It’s a fairytale parody that asks: “What if the fairytales we heard growing up are all distorted retellings of actual events?” I am currently illustrating the book and I have made two thirds of the pictures. If everything goes according to plan, then I should have the book published within a year.

THAT was my story so far, but what about yours? Why should you consider writing? Well the first thing I’ll say to you is that it’s not all about the publishers, you can share a story with the world even without their help. Second, writing itself is worthwhile.

YES, everybody, it’s the truth. You don’t need ambitions of becoming the next J.K. Rowling to consider writing.

YOU can write about anything from what you did over the past week to a poem about that old man you saw feeding the ducks last autumn. The benefits of writing are in the process itself, you can express what’s in your mind without speaking to another person and potentially being misunderstood or interrupted. I’ll admit that sometimes you need to force yourself to start writing but once you start you’ll want to continue.

IF you are interested in playing with the pen, then I’ll leave you with some advice.

LEARN how to touch type. I mean it, there are free websites that can help you.

THE second tip is to make a schedule. If you start a lengthy undertaking such as writing a book, then consistently writing a certain amount at a certain time each week is the only way to go.

FINAL advice, be willing to share the writing piece when it’s done. Let people tell you what they do and don’t like about it. Don’t take their criticism as an insult, use it. This doesn’t mean you need to please everyone, sometimes the criticism people give your writing work isn’t actually that good. Make a copy of whatever you created before you edit it. Preserve the first draft.

I hope you have fun.

The views expressed here are those of the author and do not represent or reflect the views of the Museum of Childhood Ireland.

James Groome is a 16-year-old writer and artist based in County Kildare. This is an original illustration of “Jacub” from his story called “A Grimm Tale Of Wolves.”

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