Creature / personal / studious / writing

Personal: Overachieving underachiever…

I thought it was time I write something a bit more me-focused, and so kick of the first of my personal posts, I want to lay down some recent thoughts I’ve had about why I am/not a writer.

I’ve been wondering at what point my life diverged and the percentage of writing in my life changed.

When I was a child, I wrote prolifically. My favourite part of the day in primary school was the mornings when we would have to write a diary of what we had done the night or weekend before. Most were full of short abrupt sentences about what they had for tea. Mine were full of adventures, I even illustrated them. I would tell of how my siblings and I had spent the evening pretending that the scaffolding in our backyard where my dad was building a new carport, was in fact a castle. We held it with our homemade wooden swords if truth be told, but on paper it was a great battle, and our victory was hard won.

With my pocket money I bought little note books and filled them with stories about dragons and super heroes. Each of them was the exact length of the book with the ending quite hurried, because as a child I thought that all books were as long as the pages allowed – it didn’t occur to me that I could run into a second book. This resulted in my writing a lot of sequels.

At secondary school I spent many lunchtimes in the library, either reading everything and anything I could get my hands on, or writing. This time in bigger school books, with the knowledge that I could spill over into more than one book as the story flowed from me. I enjoyed English Literature and especially English Language, for which I got one of my highest school grades.

Despite teachers telling me from a young age that I had an amazing imagination and very good writing skills, it was never ever put on the table that writing, in any way whatsoever, was a viable career.

And so, I got to my school exam years and had to decide what I want to be when I grew up. It didn’t for one moment enter my head that I would in any way write for a living. Firstly, because as a vocation it was not offered, and secondly because it was so ingrained in who I was that it was always just something I did naturally and would continue to do regardless of recompense.

So vocationally, I specialised in my other favourite subjects – history and sociology. I went on to college and took A Levels in History, Archaeology, Classical Civilisations and Human Biology. I spent my lunch times writing up my little note book stories of yesteryear on these new fangled computing devices and saving them on discs that were more solid than their names suggested.

I went to University, studied archaeology. Won a scholarship to study in Australia, and there – dreaming of home – the seed of the idea that became About the Nature of the Creature began to grow. I took my Masters in Greek Archaeology and History and started to look for the almost non-existent jobs that I was qualified for.

All that time I continued to write and as the reality of fulltime working life grew closer, I started to think about my future. Where did I want to be in ten years? And that was when I started to realise that regardless of my day job, I still wanted to be writing. If at all possible I wanted to be successful enough to write fulltime. Fame, money, those fickle things that so many seem to crave in our society, meant nothing. If I was just scraping by on enough money to eat and pay rent (well pay rent at least), I would be happy to sit there day after day with a pot of tea and words flowing from my mind.

And since graduating from my MA in 2005 I have gone from job to job, still not quite fulfilling the promise of my studies, but giving me less and less time at each turn to actually write. And it makes me miserable.

The last year has been tough, and over the last few weeks I have decided that things need to change. At some point my writing slowed to the point of stopping. Other things in life took over and have never gotten back to the days of when I finally finished About the Nature of the Creature in 2011. I could be maudlin, but instead I am determined. Over the course of coming months I plan on shaking up my life and integrating writing back into it.

I want to push myself as a writer and even start to push myself on literary agents in the hope of at least getting something out there. If its not good enough, at least I will have tried. But its time I need to start trying. I got sidetracked away from writing by having a life, but that is never going to change, its just something I need to work with and make cohesive.

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