I have been fascinated with words, and by association, stories, for as long as I can remember. When I was growing up, my Grandmother kept all of her most precious books behind the locked doors of a glass-fronted bookcase in her upstairs hallway. My brother and I often spent Saturday nights at her house and every time she took us up to bed we would pass by the bookcase and she would say, “there’s nothing in there that you’d be interested in, now off to bed with you.” There is probably something quite ironic about the fact that my brother took my Grandmother at her word and completely ignored the books, but I, on the other hand, took note of the key, always left in some conspicuous location (and at a convenient height) for any 7 year old to find.
So, with one single act of stealth (and my Grandmother’s unspoken blessing) I was transported into the magical worlds of The Secret Garden, Little Women, The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe, and the collected works of some guy by the name of William Shakespeare.
When I graduated from high school and set about planning my University career, only one course of study seemed practical – an Honours Degree in Language and Literature. I’ve often wondered if I’ve used my degree to any good end, given that I am not published, but then I remember the countless correspondence that I produced during my working life, the use of words in a professional setting rather than a fictional one and I forgive myself – sort of. I have written more press releases and grant applications, edited more technical manuals and written more presentations than I care to remember. I even sold for two different educational publishing companies in an attempt to stay immersed in the world of words.
In some ways, I think I like to write for the same reasons that I like to read, because I like to get lost in a story, to be transported somewhere else, to be someone else, even if it’s only for a little while. But what I have discovered over the years is that there is immense insecurity in this act of ‘writing’, of determining a storyline, a set of character – believable characters – and bringing them to life, because I don’t know, even yet if what I have to say is important enough to be worthy of print, or if its complete rubbish.
Yet there are moments…when the characters seem to be telling me the way of things and the words flow and ideas burgeon and bear fruit, when time stands still and I am transported. During those moments, I am content – no – I am euphoric. And the truth of it is, those moments, as rare as they are, are so magical, so vital to my sense of self, that I can’t imagine not putting myself in a place – a writing place – where I can feel that way, over and over again.
Current work in progress:
THE DAUGHTERS OF STÖRMME follows three generations of Baracchus woman on their journeys from the wilds of the north to the labyrinthine workings of the King’s Bridge court, as they struggle to protect those they love and to keep the realm from falling into chaos.
Reading, writing, rewriting, spending time with my kids, their friends, my friends, writing, rewriting
Free the Children, Foundation for Small Voices, Wellspring Cancer Support Centre, London and Region
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