Sometimes I wonder why I write. What set me on this road in the first place? Was I born to write or did I become a writer?
My earliest childhood memories involve The Beatles, and especially their first trip to the USA. I was three or four at the time. We didn’t have a television, only a radio, yet I vividly recall pictures of the Fab Four and the furore about their ‘long hair’. I could only have seen them in the newspaper or a magazine.
I also have a memory from around this time where I’m sitting on my father’s lap while he reads the newspaper. I’m certain he tried to teach me to read because it got me into trouble when I started school. I was told off because I could read a little, believe it or not.
I loved reading, especially when I discovered Enid Blyton’s Famous Five. Five on a Treasure Island took me a world of adventure I could only dream of. I devoured the remaining stories, never tiring of the adventures and scrapes the five could get into. I then read the Secret Seven series. From here, I moved onto classics like Alice in Wonderland, and the Narnia series, though The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe remains my favourite.
The only other book I remember from that time is Elidor. I’m fairly sure it involved a parallel world and a unicorn.
The staff in my local library got to know me well. By the age of 11, I’d exhausted all the books I wanted to read in the Children’s section and asked if I could choose from the main library. To my surprise and delight, the librarian agreed, but on the condition that she vetted my chosen books for suitability. Her choices not only gave me worlds I’d never encountered before, she educated me into the art of writing. From the moment I was allowed to read ‘adult’ books, I started a notebook. In it, I wrote down words I didn’t understand and then looked them up in the dictionary later. I often spoke these words and incorporated them into every day life so I could remember them better.
I suspect an 11 year old boy using words like elucidate didn’t do much for my street cred.
When I started senior school, as we called it then, English became and remained my favourite subject. I loved writing stories, always gaining good marks for my imagination and technique.
For my twelfth birthday I asked for a typewriter and got one – a Petite children’s typewriter. As I had a paper round, I saved up and replaced it with a portable typewriter. I produced comics and stories for my friends and when I was 16 or 17, I wrote my first novel, entitled Survival in the Garden. I sent it to a children’s publisher and got a really nice letter back, praising my dialogue and characters. Unfortunately, it wasn’t quite what they wanted. In hindsight, I should have told them I was 17. At the time, I thought it would go against me because they wouldn’t take a 17 year old seriously.
How different things could have been!
And that’s how I remember it. Like all writers, I had a natural curiosity for the world about me. I wanted to know anything and everything – and still do. I loved trivia – the more obscure the information, the more I liked it. I loved reading stories, especially those involving adventure and mystery. I could create imaginary worlds in my mind and put them on paper. And with a typewriter, I could share them and entertain my friends.
So, was I born to write, or did I become a writer? Was it nature or nurture?
What do you think? Why don’t you let me know me in the comment box below?