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  • by Lindy Schneider
Published in the Australian teachers magazine August 2010 (page 46)

Ask Lisa Takdare what book she is currently reading, and most adults will look puzzled when she mentions the author or title. When Lisa lists her favorite authors she has more in common with the children at the school library where she works, than the average Australian reader.

Lisa is an emerging children’s writer and for her, just being surrounded by books everyday is a source of inspiration. She finds a story germ will often just ‘pop in’ and, regardless of where she starts, each story seems to naturally gravitate to the children’s genre. This is how she knows she is a children’s writer. ‘I am surrounded by a vast array of children’s books every day, and see how children relate to different stories.’ she says.

Surrounded by over 25,000 books, Lisa also has over 1200 children as a ready resource for feedback on her story ideas. She is close to the action, seeing first hand how and why a book garners a response, and a simple trip to the junior library can shape a whole new story idea for her.

Writing has been a shaping influence on Lisa’s life for almost 20 years. As a young woman with a new baby living in Jakarta, writing initially took hold in her life as a means of relieving boredom and exploring her thoughts. Lisa says, ‘writing is like being in a river, and I just had to flow with it.’ Within this flow, characters, protagonists and plots started to take emerge and Lisa found herself ‘tinkering’ with writing in amongst the many other demands of a life filled with work and family responsibilities.

But it was a resolute ‘just do it’ from a journalist friend 3 years ago, that finally had her making the space for her writing to become a real and valid pursuit. She enrolled in the Diploma of Professional Writing and Editing course and eagerly awaits the children’s writing unit next year.

Writing has given shape to Lisa’s life and her approach to her writing is practically minded and self-aware. She has an innate knowing of her strengths and her challenges and cites the development of perseverance, and the cultivation of undisturbed space (physically and mentally), as having the most impact on her writing. There is a clear sense that it is the words that matter most, and the ancillary activities associated with being an author – the festivals, the publicity trail and the talks – hold little appeal for her.

Lisa would rather see the eyes of the children grow wide with wonder and, when she talks of how her own teenage children are dedicated to the writing craft, her dark blue eyes glimmer with a similar quality.

If we are shaped by our surroundings, then Lisa has placed herself at the centre of a symbiotic union between writing and children. Her first book, yet to be published, will mark the beginning of a flow of works that will be received with glee by the greatest critics she knows – the junior school at St Michaels Grammar School.

And as for the shape of things to come, Lisa maintains her characteristic poise and says, ‘The lesson has been to take myself, and my writing, seriously so that others can do the same. I need to write and in doing so I am a better person for myself and for others.’ Lisa has a clear vision of her writing future – some would say she is already there.

Download this article as a PDF Shaping the Future Australian Teachers Magazine

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