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I remember as teen, when I was at school and university, feeling really embarrassed to tell people I liked to write. Mainly because they would then go on to ask ‘oh cool, can I read something?’ and the answer to that was always a big, giant ‘NOPE’. No, you can’t. I don’t want to share my creations yet, thank you, wait until I’m ready. That hasn’t changed. But as a result of keeping that card close to my chest, a lot of friends now have no idea that I tend to enjoy sitting in front of my laptop with a cup of coffee and writing down whatever my stream of consciousness tells me to do.
As a child, I constantly had my nose stuck in a book or a notebook, reading and writing. I was probably about six when I penned (crayoned?) my first work of creative fiction, although I doubt it was very good. I remember regularly eating my dinner with one hand, with a book clutched in the other then afterwards spending hours in front of my dad’s computer writing kids stories and short novellas. Most of them were nonsense, granted, but the odd one had a ring to it. And as I got older, more and more things I scribbled down felt OK, until I decided that one day I would put my nose to the grindstone and get something published. That day hasn’t come, because life got in the way, but my primary 2018 goal is to finally hit that milestone, and I actually feel like I have the correct skills in my arsenal to actually go for it.
I’m not a bad writer. I’m actually very good. Gosh, that took some saying. We’re taught not to be proud of ourselves and our talents, but I think that’s a mistake to teach that to your children. We should be proud of our talents and we should showcase them – plenty of people with mediocre talent get a long way in life, so why do we shy away when we actually have something to show?
In November last year, I decided that alongside studying for and taking one of the biggest exams of my professional career (which I passed, hurrah!) I would try my hand at NaNoWriMo and see how I got on. NaNoWriMo, for those of you who haven’t heard of it before, is National Novel Writing Month and it spans the whole of November. It’s the one month of the year where professional, amateur and aspiring writers get together over the expanse of the internet and try to write a 50,000-word novel while supporting and encouraging each other. So I guess taking that on alongside work and studying was a bit of a moment of madness but something kind of awesome happened: I managed to hit that 50k word count and then some, and this time it was actually quality. (Oh, and I passed my exam too, so November was a roaring success all around. That ‘can do’ attitude works, who’da thunk), so naturally this year I’m going for it again. I already have my outline done and some plot points noted, and I’ll likely share parts of it online – and the whole thing once it’s finished.
I’m not sure what points you have to hit to call yourself ‘a writer’. Scribbling sporadically in notebooks when the mood takes you? Writing every day with a purpose but keeping it all under lock and key? Sharing random snatches of work with other people? Publishing the odd piece, or publishing a book or two? JK Rowling-style stardom? Do you have to be an Orwell-standard genuis? No, not in the slightest. I don’t know what the official definition is, but to me if you’re putting pen to paper – or fingers to keys – with inspiration, creativity, desire and purpose then to me you’re a writer. Most writers that I speak to know the familiar need to write down what’s circulating in their minds, and to me that makes someone a writer.
So I guess the purpose of writing all this down is to affirm to you and to myself that writing is one of the things I really enjoy in life, and that checking in with that hobby has proved to be pretty soul-enriching over the last few months – so it stands to reason that it will be in the future as well. And I suppose there might be a writer or two out there who reads this and thinks ‘I get ya’. I post my work online, and am lucky enough to have amassed a lot of followers in a short space of time – a 111k completed work has 13k hits at my last check-in, which is not a huge amount for someone like JK Rowling, but it’s enough for me.
And no, I won’t share links. Not yet. Or maybe I will, during NaNoWriMo, and get that confidence up. Who knows?