I grew up loving books; and watching TV, laughing at comic strips, being whisked away by progressive pop, listening to tall tales told by my stepdad and thoughtful musings from my grandad. In short, I grew up in awe of stories.
I didn’t just listen to them, I wrote many too. My first novel was finished when I was seven years old. It’s a story I have re-explored on and off for the past thirty-five years, the essence of the tale remains at the heart of everything I’ve penned since. Set in the middle ages, it was the story of a young boy who had fallen through a hole in time and was looking for a way home. I was an army baby, born and raised overseas. At the time I wrote that book, my parents were divorcing and I’d just been diagnosed with epilepsy. I think it’s fair to say, I felt like an outsider in the small country town we found ourselves in. Stories and writing helped me escape and I mixing sci-fi with history was the ultimate act of escapism.
I still have the original manuscript, sixteen pages stapled together enclosed in a yellow cover. Wafer-thin, crinkly sheets of paper typed up on my mum’s typewriter and speckled with Tippex. That little book set me on a path, filled me with ambition and ignited a desire. “When I’m grown-up, I’m going to be a writer.”
And, to a certain extent, I have achieved that. I have penned words to push products and programmes, created characters and worlds for children’s television and scribed more corporate videos than I care to remember. Yet, I am not fulfilled. Those are not the words I dreamed of writing. I am not the writer I longed to be. My seven year old self would look at my limited literary achievements with ambivalence.
I have tried to write what I wanted to write. There was a play I almost finished, a screenplay that is still missing a third act and the three novels that never made it passed the first draft, because life got in the way; and by the time life went to bed I had a new story buzzing around inside my head. I have struggled to stick with any idea long enough to make me want to read it again; which is the least I expect of any good story.
So, I have set myself a challenge. I will write every day. I’m not setting myself some unobtainable goal to finish a novel or even start one. If I do that, I’ll fail. It’s my nature to go full pelt at things; self-motivation isn’t a problem. My failings lie in my inability to keep going; I am easily distracted. Rather than try and write one thing for a year, I will write one thing every day for a year. There will be a limit of thirty minutes each day for writing. One day I might pen a very short story, another may be a journal entry or opinion piece. Right now, I can’t say what each day will hold, but I promise myself words for every day. Maybe that will be enough to get me back on the path my seven year old self set.