A Writer's Process: Penny Walker

Penny Walker was a shortlisted runner-up in the Wild Words Spring Solstice 2015 Writing Competition with her entry Above Grasmere.

"Although I do a lot of writing for my work, I’m only an occasional creative writer.

This poem records a precious day, when I went on a school trip with my younger daughter.

There’s a secret double meaning in its title. We were ‘above Grasmere’ in the Lake District. But it was also her final year at Grasmere Primary School in Hackney, London. This school trip for families to a namesake beauty spot was a goodbye to primary school because she would soon be ‘above Grasmere’ and moving on to secondary school.

The whole trip was a rite of passage: fun, exciting, and also poignant.

I wanted to capture how I felt about her and about my own changing identity. The first few lines emerged pretty much fully formed, and I scribbled them down. I wasn’t sure that there was any point in trying to write any more, but I took the risk and a few more verses came. The hard work was trying to see whether phrases and ideas that were 100% meaningful and understandable to me, would make sense to a reader who wasn’t inside my head.

I didn’t fully manage to strip it of cliché, but I’m pleased with some of the images and compactness.

When I was happy enough with it, the first person I shared it with was my daughter. After all, it was her story too. She encouraged me to do a final polish and was OK with the idea of me trying to get it published in some way.

And I’m glad it has been. But its importance is very personal - it’s a love letter to my daughter and to the bittersweet aching pride in letting your child leave you behind, beyond your protection, as they have to."