Writing Challenge: Writerly Reflections
Reflect on your origins story and tell us how and why you became a writer.
I remember vividly a teacher setting me a task in primary school. I had to write a poem and read it aloud to the class. I don’t remember the poem, but I remember being bitten by the writing bug and I haven’t really stopped writing since.
According to my family, I’ve always lived in other worlds. They often share their memories of my younger years and in particular, my growing imagination. My mother remembers reading to me for hours, and as I grew I would read anything I could get my hands on.
My early favourites were Enid Blyton and Roald Dahl. The Wishing Tree Collection and The Enchanted Wood stand out for me, but the Famous Five stories are the ones I treasure. Enid Blyton had a way of bringing the story to life, and for a young girl, dreaming of creating her own adventures, she had a big influence.
I used to fancy myself as an artist, and if I wasn’t writing, I was drawing and creating faces for the characters in my head. Quentin Blake had an influence because his illustrations brought the words of Roald Dahl to life. The Twits is my all-time favourite. I don’t know what it is about the cantankerous pair, but I couldn’t get enough.
As other media began to influence my creative outlets, I would write plays and force my sister to act them out. I would become Batfink and run through the house, adopting his catchphrase and adding a few of my own.
It didn’t stop there. I would write plays, choreograph dance routines and act them out in front of my family. I think they were all relieved when that period was over.
Throughout my teenage years I would harass my English teacher into giving me additional assignments and read my stories to whomever would listen. My father, god bless him, got the brunt of my early experiments.
My literary tastes began to change, and pretty soon I turned to Tolkien. I loved the Hobbit. I would pore over the pages for hours and imagine myself being part of the world he created. It was when I seriously began to dream of writing a novel. A journey I created for the pleasure of someone just like me; someone who enjoyed spending time between the pages of a favourite book.
It was around that time I was introduced to Marvel and DC Comics. I fell in love with so many of the characters I can’t possibly choose a favourite. But needless to say my loyalty to the genre stems from an enjoyment of Superman and his many trials. Thus began my passion for all things science fiction.
In terms of writing, I’ve experimented in a variety of ways, but strangely, that doesn’t include graphic novels. Perhaps it’s an acknowledgement that I will never be able to produce the right standard of artwork, though I like to think the stories would have held up.
I’ve always understood the power of words and can be deeply moved by a writers’ ability to bring their characters to life. It is part of the fun, as a reader. I can become deeply invested in the tale and it’s something I enjoy time and again. My current taste in literature is wide and varied. It seems I still read anything and everything I can get my hands on!
But writing is the thing that brings me the greatest joy. It’s a kind of freedom, and it heals all wounds, or it has in my experience.
Even when the changes in my life made it difficult, when I struggled to find the time; work, marriage, children. I wrote when I could. For a while that meant working into the early hours, but it was worth it. If I didn’t write I would cease to be. It sounds a little dramatic perhaps, but it doesn’t make it any less true. It’s like the writer is a separate part of me and if I don’t allow her an avenue for escape once in a while, we both go mad.
As a person I dislike routine. I’m not a planner and though I try, it will never really be who I am. I can write anywhere; in the car (obviously not while driving), in a train station, on a bus, at work…you get my point. Until last year I didn’t allow myself a set number of hours; I followed no real routine. Then I took part in NaNoWriMo and it was a unique experience because it taught me that the limitations I put on myself affect my work.
Since then I’ve been embracing structure (or as much as I can) and developing my technique. I’ve improved my blogging identity and the benefits of this are reflected in the supportive community I’m now a part of. For me, there’s no going back.