A revered childhood mentor, Mr Eveleigh, with the football team – a man who tried to get us to a guilt-free adolescence.
In my last blog I asked why authors continue to write, despite gaining so few readers. Am I sure that we have few readers? An internet search reveals that average US sales for a book, during its lifetime are around 200.
So why do we write?
Is it an ego trip, a wish to get rich, put over a point of view?
I suggested writing, along with some other art forms, is a way of working through some uncomfortable facts about oneself and shifting them to a more comfortable place in our subconscious.
I further suggest, that most of these inconvenient areas stem from our childhood.
So, here I go with some examples. My first choice is a woman who made millions from her writing. Enid Blyton, is the most successful children’s writer of all time, but she might have disliked children.
Children behaving as we don’t wish them to, brings out the worst in adults. I suggest that, to assuage her bad conscience, Blyton created super-hero children who were beyond reproach. Had she had the mythical offspring she created, she would have had time for them. As it was, she treated her own children with indifference, which is the most hurtful of all parental responses.
And she added a dog. Dogs are the perfect children. When you don’t want them, they can be put in a corner, or in the garden or garden shed, and when needed, will provide a cuddle on demand.
By writing about super kids, pets, trolls and characters too politically incorrect for modern-day audiences, she moved her bad conscience to her bank account. She was able to provide the very best materially for her daughters and that made up, she hoped, for her overall rejection of the child-like state she couldn’t tolerate. She employed nannies, I am sure.
I checked my assumption about Enid after I had written the above.
Gyles Brandreth had the good fortune to interview Blyton’s daughters. The younger, Imogen, describes her mother as ‘arrogant, insecure, pretentious and very skilled in putting the unpleasant out of her mind, and without a trace of maternal instinct.’ (I have paraphrased).
So Imogen substantiates my theory. Not so her older sister, who has a more benign memory of her mother.
Being an awful person isn’t all bad! Has anyone not had a Blyton moment in their childhood? Her sales of books and translations are eye-watering.
I remember my Blyton moment, and remember my primary school teacher, for whom, 50 years after his early death I still have undiluted admiration. He told us, ‘If you have to read that awful woman, don’t bring the books to school.’
A bit harsh, but he was right.