18th January. Got up. Had breakfast. Went to school. Maths test. Raining.
It’s easy to see why the diaries I began each new year in my schooldays never lasted more than a few weeks. I didn’t need a diary that reinforced how boring my life was.
It wasn’t just the lack of momentous events to record, it was the false voice that popped up when I tried to put in anything more personal or thoughtful. I sounded so lame, even to myself. Writers are always advised: ‘find your voice’. Mine was never to be discovered lurking in my diaries.
So if I’ve always struggled with diaries, how come I’ve just written a book based on one?*
Because. Oh, because!
Because it’s really good fun writing a diary from the point of view of a fictional character. This is quite, quite different from writing as dull old me.Because Nancy Parker, my heroine, has been freed of diary tyranny. Because she’s keeping a Journal, not a daily and dated diary. As she says, “You don’t have to write in it every day, only when you have something you want to say – something important.”
Because Nancy has lots of MOMENTOUS EVENTS to put in her journal. When they’re really momentous, she puts them in capital letters with lots of exclamation marks. And adds comments in brackets. So I can indulge my love of !!! And of ( ).
Miss Lamb said few people lead such exciting lives that they have Something Worthwhile to write down every day. But I plan to have a great many exciting days now that I have thrown off the SHACKLES of SCHOOL!
And because I could really explore the way Nancy expresses herself. She’s had quite a poor education and leaves school on her 14th birthday (it’s 1920). Despite these limitations she is irrepressible, with big dreams and expectations. It’s great to step inside someone at the start of an adventure, and take them through all the ups and downs.
I might have broken away from my aversion to writing diaries with this book, but I still won’t be keeping my own from now on…
Got up. Raining. Had breakfast. Wrote a bit. Had a coffee. Wrote a bit more. Stared out of window. Still raining.
But I do recommend writing someone else’s diary. If you want some creative inspiration, give it a try.
*Um – three books. The second in the series is currently being edited, and the third is at the detailed planning stage. You can find the first, Nancy Parker’s Diary of Detection, in good bookshops now.
A version of this post originally appeared on GirlsHeartBooks