Monday, April 7, 2014
When did you first decide you wanted to be a writer?
I don’t know if this is a question I can personally answer. I've always written, for as long as I can remember. And telling stories and creating imaginary worlds was very much encouraged throughout my childhood.
I was probably in primary school when I first noticed that not everyone played the way that my sister and I did. We planned out stories for our dolls to act out. And then we wrote them down. In chapters. Meandering, cringe-worthy chapters that we stapled together to make books. Terrible, cringe-worthy books. But the seed was there: I wanted to make books. For real.
Did everyone else have those career charts at schools? Like concentric coloured circles, with some subject you were good at in the middle, and a whole ripple effect of careers that you could do with that. Like the maths might go to mathematician (obviously), to maths teacher (slightly less obviously) to military fighter pilot (an example only. As if I ever had cause to study the maths poster).
I remember checking out the English poster, and the History poster, and thinking, “But I don’t want to be a teacher. Or an actor. Or a social worker.”
But, funnily enough, I don’t remember “writer” or “author” being on the list back when I was at school. Maybe that’s because nobody in the Education department could, in good conscience, recommend a career choice that, for most people, pays les than welfare. Because check it out, this updated poster is totally talking it up:
Maybe I just didn’t want to see “writer” on the list back then, as though I was afraid it would jinx me. Whatever the case, somehow I put that childhood dream of making real books on hold. I told myself that writing was a hobby. Just like reading, but nobody judges you for reading.
I mean, I couldn’t fail to be a published author if I never tried, right? I wasted a lot of years thinking that.
But the writing bug – by which I mean the absolute compulsion to write, the pure need to do it – isn’t something that goes away. So I wrote. And I wrote. And I wrote. And even if nobody could figure out why I was still doing it, I kept going.
Publishing is a decision we make. It’s a goal we decide to aim for.
But writing. Writing is necessary.
I’ve think I’ve always been a writer. How about you?