For as long as I can remember I’ve loved stories.
Books have ruled my life and I mainly have my grandmother to thank for that. She loved to read and particularly the classics. She and my grandad were always giving me books as Christmas and birthday presents to encourage me to keep reading.
My favourite book when I was four-years-old was The Three Little Pigs. I still remember the small book with the gorgeous colourful pictures of the pigs and the big, bad wolf. The book got read so much the hard cover started to split. I couldn’t read it, but my mother would read the book to me over and over. She would get sick of reading the same story and subtly encourage me to choose another book. But no. The Three Little Pigs was always the story I wanted to hear.
As I got older my love for reading never extinguished. I spent hours reading. I loved everything about losing myself in a different world, going on adventures and feeling as though the characters were my friends.
I helped out at my primary and high school libraries, worked after school at the local library shelving books and had a summer job after leaving school at the National Library. To be surrounded by books all day every day was heaven. My life long dream was to be a librarian but unfortunately I didn’t get the necessary qualifications to enter library school.
Throughout intermediate and high school English and History were my favourite subjects. I loved to read the set books and I loved to write essays.
The desire to write followed closely behind reading. If I wasn’t reading, I was writing. If it wasn’t stuff for school, I’d be writing stories about girls living in a boarding school and the adventures they got up to. I wrote these stories when I was 11 and I still have them. After I finished writing about girls’ boarding school adventures, I progressed onto teenage romance stories.
The heavy study schedule of the last two years of school prevented me from doing much writing, then it was going out into the big wide world of work and then the years just kept passing by. I was still making up stories in my head inspired by everywhere I went and everyone I met.
In 2014 I made the decision after working all my life without time off to do the big OE, have children or go to university, to start writing again. It was hard to get back into it. I had spent the last 11 years doing a lot of technical and business writing. A lot of left brain stuff. For some unknown reason I found it hard to get back into creative writing (the right brain stuff).
But I started. I had an idea for a long time to write a story about the bond of brothers, which had been inspired by my favourite book, The Outsiders.
The more I wrote the more the ideas flowed for my story and the more I wanted to write morning, noon, and night. I couldn’t get enough of writing.
I have to admit. It wasn’t easy. I virtually had no idea what I was doing. So I had to research writing – plot, acts, story beats, character development, using the five senses to make your story come alive, how to show and not tell, how to write a good first chapter, the beginning and end of a chapter, conflict, goal, motivation, setting. OMG! There was so much to learn. But I had started. Now that not knowing what I didn’t know was no longer a mystery, I was away!
So began my serious writing journey. The draft of my first novel, Haven River, was written in six months. Then because I still didn’t know what I was doing I spent 18 months rewriting and editing.
There were times I felt like giving up. Writing a novel is really, really, really hard!
But I persevered and in 2016 I self-published Haven River. This would have to be one of my most proudest moments.
I was only every going to write one book. I figured that by reaching my goal of writing and publishing a book it would be out of my system. Ah, no!
I have to admit even as I was putting the finishing touches on Haven River I had, without even truly trying, an idea for my next story. I was well and truly bitten by the writing bug. I had more knowledged and more writing experience. I had made mistakes and learnt heaps and I could apply that to my next book hoping at the same time I’d become a better writer. My second baby was born – Aqua Bay. And I was a proud mum again!
Did stop there? Oh, no! More stories started to emerge. I scribbled all these ideas down in a notebook and started to panic – when was I going to have the time to write all these stories! How was I going to select which ones to develop further? I wish I could explain I have a process to do that, but I guess its just the story that cries out to be written, the smallest inkling of a character who’s saying, “write about me!”
In 2015/2016 I bashed out Misty Springs. This manuscript needs to be edited and will be my major project for 2018.
This year I’m taking on two writing challenges – writing two novels at the same time (how am I not going to muddle up my stories!) and co-authoring a story with another writer, Bob Boze.
So this is a long winded way of coming back to the original question, Why do I write?
On the face of it…
Because I like stories
To create chacracters and a world that I have control over (except when my characters say, “Let’s go in this direction!”)
To give something back to the reading community
To get better at it
To learn more
To take on a challenge
As a means of expression
To explore issues and concepts
On a deeper level:
I can’t explain it. It’s something I just have to do. I feel incomplete, like I’m missing a part of me, disconnected, if I don’t write.
I can’t imagine my life without writing.
Because I have to.
What compels you to write?