Being Me

My plan for this evening (as my husband is out) was to catch up on various posts I have wanted to write for a while.  However, Harry has taken an age to get to sleep (tip: no bananas before bed, something I have known for a while, but as it is the only thing he has eaten all day I cannot complain) and in this time I let my mind wander into the lands of nostalgia.

It was my resolution this year to get serious about writing again – properly serious.  Write more.  Get myself out there.  Grow my confidence.  Now, Nanowrimo is finally upon us again, and this year I am making an effort to get more involved with other writers.  And it makes me doubt myself.  From reading other blogs I have seen such amazing talent and dedication and I think ‘I don’t have that’.  But at the same time I think ‘Yes, I do – I just need to prove it.’  Mainly to myself, then to others.

During the past eight years I have been strolling through a maze.  I have been letting each path take me wherever it leads and I haven’t been hurrying along or searching for the centre of the maze.  I have just been getting lost.  Turning back.  Starting again.  Sometimes going the long way round.  Each time thinking I am heading in the right direction.  But now, I am back to the beginning and I need to get to the centre of that blasted maze.  I have to.

I have always wanted to write.  Before I could even write I was making books from folded over bits of paper tied up with string.  Then, when I was asked the question ‘What do you want to be when you grow up?’, it was always ‘an author-illustrator’.  Sure, I gave the usual 8-year-old girl answers of ‘hairdresser’ and ‘nurse’ on occasion, but I always added ‘and an author-illustrator’.  And as I grew, it was always tagged on the end to whatever I wanted to be an the time (and there were a lot of things – teacher, police officer, social worker, diplomat, aid worker…), although at some point I lost the ‘illustrator’ bit.

When I was in primary school we had to write poems about our hands.  I had to read mine out in assembly.  I still remember part of it:

My hands have patterns

like long long ropes

My hands are smooth

as smooth as soap

My hands are [I forget this part]

My hands are so useful to me

Later in primary school (I think in Year 4), I was part of a group of outstanding students who had special classes because they felt we were getting held back.  We all co-wrote and acted in a play to the parents and the rest of the school.  It was about a family who got lost in the fog when out on a walk in the country and were guided to safety by a ghost dog.

One of my strongest positive memories about being a writer is from when I was in Year 6 (I think) and I had this teacher – Miss Sheridan/Mrs Thackerway  – who I still remember as one of my favourite teachers ever (for the sake I fairness I will note that my other favourite teacher was Mrs Baggott, who was my Year 8 teacher).  Our primary and middle schools always produced tea towels for each class where each student had to draw a picture of themselves, and that year Miss Sheridan asked if I could draw her picture for the tea towel.  She also gave us this fantastic project where we had to write and illustrate a book in pairs.  Unfortunately, I cannot remember any of the story (I have an inkling of an island and something reminiscent of the Famous Five, which would make sense as I was working with my friend, Sam, and we both loved the Famous Five), although I remember that Miss Sheridan always picked up on Sam spelling ‘between’ as ‘betwen’ and me right ‘cannot’ as two separate words.  Later, I think it may have been in Year 8, we were given a project about the Kobe earthquake and I remember making a fantastic little book which was the journal of a young girl (I think I must have been going through an Ann Frank phase).  When I go home at Christmas I really must see if I still have any of these things.  I still have a few boxes to sort through and I know my Dad is dying to get rid of them!

I think things started to change a lot when I was at High School – as they do for most people, really.  I got into online journalling and I wrote a lot of poetry and so-called songs.  I think my proudest achievement was the poem I wrote for my Mum for Mother’s Day when I was 16 (and I remember I was 16 because for my 16th Birthday she gave me a little guardian angel to take with me on my travels – I was going on a month-long trip to Peru that Summer).  I called it ‘My Guardian Angel’ and, like ‘My Hands’, most of it has always stuck with me (my Mum also has it framed!):

Wherever in the world I am

You will be there with me

Come rain or hail

Sleet or snow

Silent winds that softly blow

As time goes by

My guardian angel will always fly

I remember hours spent scribbling away in black hardback notebooks from Woolworths and if anyone asked what I was doing I would say ‘stuff’, so much so that my writing has forever been nicknamed ‘stuff’.  If I wasn’t doing that I was sitting at my Grandpa’s old word processor (when we upgraded to a computer with internet and everything, I persuaded my parents to let me have it in my bedroom rather than chuck it away), staring out of my attic window and I truly recall the first true sparks of inspiration and aspiration that I had for writing novels.  Not that I stopped writing my childish poetry just yet.  I know for sure that I am not a poet.

However, even with university and the rest of my life looming in the near-distance, I still did not think of writing as a career.  I suppose it must have crossed my mind, but I never took it seriously.  I just did not have the confidence.  It wasn’t that I didn’t think I was good enough.  My friends and family always complicated my writing.  I recall one teacher telling my parents on parent’s evening that I was ‘a star’ and my essays ‘always read like a story’.  Not that I ever had bad parent’s evenings, but that was definitely my best one!

After school. I always wanted to take a GAP year.  Partly because I wanted to see the world, partly because I didn’t have a clue what I wanted to do with my life.  I learnt Spanish, I worked at a children’s home helping the kids with their homework, I travelled and learnt all sorts of life lessons.  When I got home I wanted to work.  More specifically, I wanted to work in hotels.  A week after getting home I had my first shift as a hotel receptionist at the worst hotel you can imagine.  It was also the most boring job in the world and I could probably still tell you the various TV programmes I watch from 8.30am to 8.30pm four days a week.  6 days a week when November hit and suddenly the other receptionist quit.  But, I was saved by the discovery of Nanowrimo and in 30 days I wrote 50,000 words of a story called ‘Where the Light Breaks.  Seven years on, I am going to write that story again.  Since I made that resolution – thanks to a very inspirational penpal – I have been researching and planning and my original idea has grown in such a way that I would never have believed seven years ago (I still don’t believe it now).

I now know for sure where I want my life to head.  I just need to find the right path.

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4 thoughts on “Being Me

  1. Just by reading this, I can tell you have a gift for writing. You told your story with such a quiet honesty, and create an immediate warmth and intimacy with your readers. I loved reading this, and I hope you accomplish everything you want to with this years’ nano.

  2. Life is good for providing material for interesting stories! Best of luck with it all and I look forward to hearing how your novel progresses 🙂

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