November 30, 2016
The Gossip Behind Ducks Away
Illustrated by Judy Horacek
In 2006 my husband and I went on holiday to Lord Howe Island. In order to climb a particular hill, we had to cross a tiny bridge over a little creek. On the bridge was a mother duck with a couple of ducklings, but below, swimming in the creek, were two other little ducklings. The mother duck was quacking so much it was as if she were speaking English: we understood her completely. She wanted the naughty ducklings below to get on to the bridge and waddle behind her, with the others, to the other side. But would they listen? No! It was hilarious, but also slightly alarming as we didn’t know quite how things would be resolved.
On we walked. In the silence of that beautiful day in nature I had an idea for a book. When we got back to the town I bought an exercise book and wrote several drafts of the story but was satisfied with none. When we returned home I put the exercise book away and forgot about the story. Eight years later in 2014 I found the notebook, read the drafts, which were indeed terrible, and thought: ‘But wait—there’s SOMETHING here.’ Many drafts later, and with perfect pictures by Judy Horacek, the book was launched in November 2016, ten years after I’d had the initial idea.
It was an important lesson never to throw away the drafts of stories, no matter how ghastly they appeared to be when I thought they were hopeless and without merit. The years pass and new eyes see fresh potential. Hurrah!