This is a question that I am often asked, and I have often answered that I don’t really know when or why or how it started. It just always seemed to be there, lurking in the background of ‘everyday life’. One thing I do know is that I have always, from early childhood, loved to write and invent fictional stories.
Doing one of my infrequent sort-outs last week I came across this old school photo. I must have been about five when it was taken. It’s my first school photo (no, I’m not going to date it).
But it brought back memories of starting school and something that happened when I wrote my first ever story.
It was the first day of the new school year. I remember being seated in class, the teacher giving us each a piece of paper. Now, this was the ‘old school’ type of paper for small kids. The top half was blank, the bottom half had lines. She told us to use the paper to write about our holidays and what we did, then draw a picture. Having never seen this paper before I began to write. At the top of the page. When I had covered the blank unlined space I finished off on the lined half. I filled the entire paper. I don’t remember being especially pleased with myself, I just thought I had followed instructions but wasn’t sure about the picture. Should I ask for a new piece of paper? Should I put my drawing on the back of the page? So, imagine my surprise when the teacher, wandering around the class, stopped at my shoulder, peered down at my piece of paper, frowning.
“You weren’t supposed to do that,” she said (or something like that).
I remember the feeling of dismay. “Where do I draw my picture?” I asked.
A long pointy finger stabbed at the tiny remaining space between the last line of my story and the end of the page.
“You’ll have to do it there,” and she walked away, still frowning.
With a heavy heart and not really understanding what I had done wrong, I drew a tiny caravan and four stick people.
So, my first reward for writing a story was punishment. Funny, I’d forgotten about this. Did it put me off writing? No, absolutely not. Throughout my school days words just poured out whenever they found the opportunity.
The urge to write has always been with me. Publishing my first novel, five years ago, was and still is my greatest achievement and source of pride. And the words are still pouring out. Watch this space!