Great advice for all writers from the Finnish sage Tove Jansson.

 From “The Spring Tune” in Tales From Moominvalley (Puffin Books 1973)

snufkin sitting on a bridge playing the harmonica


“It’s the right evening for a tune, Snufkin thought. A new tune, one part expectation, two parts sadness, and for the rest, just the great delight of walking alone and liking it.

He had kept this tune under his hat for several days but hadn’t quite dared to take it out yet. It had to grow into a kind of happy conviction. Then, he would simply have to put his lips to the mouth organ, and all the notes would jump instantly into their places.

If he released them too soon they might get stuck crossways and make only a half-good tune, or he might lose them altogether and never be in the right mood to get hold of them again. Tunes are serious things, especially if they have to be jolly and sad at the same time.

But this evening Snufkin felt rather sure of his tune. It was there, waiting, nearly full-grown – and it was going to be the best he ever made.

Then, when he arrived in Moominvalley, he’d sit on the bridge rail and play it, and Moomintroll would say at once: That’s a good one. Really a good one.”

I love this piece. It reminds me how important it is to keep the tender shoots of first drafts protected and under your hat, to keep them all to yourself, till it is fully grown, and ready to be shown to the world – hopefully to a reader who is as appreciative as Moomintroll. 

Moomintroll and Snufkin on the bridge at night

Moomin Bridge by Maria Hobbit

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3 thoughts on “SNUFKIN’S SONG

  1. helenapastor says:

    Yep, I like it too Edwina … and that’s what we need to learn to do – keep those vulnerable first drafts close and trust in ourselves. Now, to find out how to subscribe!

  2. great advice for me to remember Ed – Oh god I love moomin and Tove!
    ‘Tunes are serious things, especially if they have to be jolly and sad at the same time.’ – Yes!!

  3. edwinashaw says:

    Thanks you two. Jolly and sad. I’m working on the jolly bit!
    Love Edwina

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