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There is no such thing as writing for yourself.

I'll come back to that.

This may sound like self-serving claptrap, but I wanted to take a moment to squawk loudly and proudly about author visits. Not just 'cause a 2013 survey from the Society of Authors found that 99.4% of schools who'd organised an author visit said they were "an invaluable

enrichment that encourages reading for pleasure, wider reading and creative writing" (although that is a total result) but, for me anyway, because of these two reasons:

1. An author visits shows children that authors are real people

2. An author visit shows authors that their readers are real people

I recently got back from Humdinger! festival, touring schools in Northern Ireland. I was getting over a truly malevolent cold and to be honest, I wasn't totally in the mood when I started.

But yeah, turns out I had a whale of a time.

Some of the schools were, y'know, school-sized, while some were so small the children were outnumbered 10-1 by the sheep in the adjacent field. But either way, the kids got to meet a real, more-or-less live author and see that writing books is an actual job done by actual people with actual foibles (and that the author was, not all that long ago, a child themselves.)

I can't promise all the children had a good time, but they laughed a lot and I laughed a lot, which is always nice. And I got to do something other than be in a room writing books.

Now don't get me wrong, I love the writing part of authoring - it's the reason I'm doing the job in the first place. But it's a void ... an odd, slightly lonely parallel universe where you sit with your own stupid, stupid thoughts and try to turn them into something creative and coherent and inspiring and slightly awesome that someone might maybe possibly hopefully enjoy.

But when I get to meet children as part of a vist I am always - always - suprised that even one of them has read and (crucially, let's face it) enjoyed one or more of my books. Even though I've been doing this for 7 years plus, it's still gobsmacking and humbling and weird and lovely.

That's what I mean when I say there is no such thing as writing for yourself. Everyone who tries to turn their stupid, stupid thoughts into a compelling story does so in the hope that, one day, another human being will appreciate it. And the times that the possibilty of a reader becomes an actual, real, live reader (or three) - and I get to meet them! - are the times I feel very lucky indeed.

Me, me, me. Maybe this is self-serving claptrap, after all.

Thanks to Dog Ears, Libraries NI and the fine folk at St Mary's PS Altinure for the pics and larks!

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