(Because every event, especially a person’s life, is a story.)
When I was 4 or 5, I wrote a story. It was very short; it involved a dog or a cat (maybe one of each, or even a mutant combo…) and it was probably awful – I was 4 or 5, to be fair. No-one told me to write it. To be honest, I have no idea what possessed me to write it – some sort of muse, I suppose, and what sort of muse goes around possessing young girls?
Anyway, the idea leapt into my tiny head and I wrote it. I did loads of what I now call ‘pre-writing’ as a young child – by that I mean making up worlds and stories to play in by myself. I was what you’d call a loner but I was never lonely or unhappy, not at that age. I think I did a fair amount of actual writing, too, because I gained a reputation for being the geeky kid who got excited about creative writing assignments in school and wrote triple the necessary amount – a reputation founded on truth.
As a pre and young teen I wrote part-novels. By that I mean I wrote a few chapters, once about a third of the novel, and then got bored of the idea for whatever reason and switched to something else. It was only in sixth form when applying for university and faced with the challenge to submit ‘samples of my writing’ that I felt it was time to get over my inability to finish a piece and go for something shorter. I returned to short stories and I got my yearned for place on the English Literature with Creative Writing course at UEA.
I learned a lot in my first year, nothing writing-related in my second year (other than the fact that the people who didn’t get on to the course didn’t get on for a reason) and as for my third year, I began to grasp the importance of listening to others and yourself, especially when the two conflict.
I graduated with a fear that I would let life get in the way and stop writing, a fear fuelled by the fact that, while at uni, I only wrote coursework, and a determination to not let that happen.
As you can see, it didn’t happen. I’m still here (by ‘here’ I mean in the writing world.) I think my failure to gain a ‘graduate’/’career’ job might have helped, although I do work full-time (I microwave food on a professional level) and that hasn’t stopped me. Sure, my life would be easier if I didn’t write. I could come home after my 12 hour shift and veg out in front of the telly with my boyfriend instead of ‘hiding’ myself in my study but there you go.
Sometimes I wish that muse had left me well alone. Sometimes I wish I’d never written that first, awful story or the one after that. Sometimes I think about stopping, about just not doing it, but never as something that could really happen. Why do I write? No idea. Why did I write that story? Don’t remember. I don’t even remember writing it, truth be told, but I do remember showing it to my mum and I remember that feeling of pride, excitement and terror when I offered it to her. It’s the same feeling I get when I click ‘send’ on an email submission.
Which brings you up to date in a rather neat manner – too neat I would say.