People always ask when I first started writing and how I was able to reach the stage of feeling comfortable enough to share my work with others. This is an overview of my writing journey and where it all began.
My fascination with words began at a very young age. My first real memory of this is being in Year 2 (second grade) at school and having weekly spelling tests. I was always infatuated with words, writing them, spelling them correctly, using them in sentences, moving them around to create new meanings. I was fixated by the possibility of them, the ability to use them to make anything happen. It was a way of playing God, of being in control.
My father always surrounded me with text and encouraged me to read. I remember collecting Disney books and reading stories to myself in the dark. I often felt distant from people so reading always gave me something to connect to. It gave me something to live for.
Although my handwriting was terrible, I enjoyed filling pages with fabricated events and creating my own space. I had something to call my own, I had a way to feel. My father then bought me a computer and I began to spend all of my time typing away stories. This is when I was the most content, when I was making things happen inside my own head, when my fingertips took control and wrote lines for me. Writing was a form of escapism. It was a means of connecting. Sometimes I would just sit and think about all of the stories that I could write and excite myself into a daydream. Sometimes I would pretend to sleep just so that I could dream up scenarios and exist in another dimension. In year 5, I showed my teacher a story that I had written. She was amazed and asked for it to be hung on the wall outside of the school reception. I think that this was the first recognition of my talent, when it became real.
When I entered secondary school, I found myself being consumed by a story that I was writing. I committed myself to it entirely, creating characters, feeding them until they developed into a fragment of their own dreams. I wrote for hours, for days; writing was my way of existing. It was all that I ever wanted to do. The characters became extensions of my personality and this new world became my sanctuary. However education inevitably took over and caused me to stop writing the 1,804 page story that I had compiled.
At the age of 15, I went through a difficult period of my life, and without realising, I found myself writing thoughts into a notebook and turning them into poetry. I remember showing my writing to a friend and him saying that he could feel the entirety of sorrow through my words. I realised that I could use writing to heal myself; it became a form of therapy.
During this stage, I was keeping an MSN blog. Although the posts were brief, I sometimes wrote about my day or how I was feeling. I then migrated to MySpace which is where the real exploration began, I began to experiment with different types of writing. Eventually there were a lot of strangers leaving comments, telling me that my writing was poetic and beautiful. I was surprised; I didn’t think anyone would read what I had to say but I began to find my voice. When MySpace began to lose its appeal, I moved over to Blogger and started posting creative pieces. I dabbled in fashion, skincare but this, my own recollections began to overrule everything else. I wanted to write for the sake of my own self, to preserve who I was in a world that was moving too quickly to retain control of.
When it came to the process of applying for university, the only thing that had always been a constant was writing. I made the decision to pursue this at university. A teacher read my poetry and told me that I was gifted. She pushed me to apply for writing courses. However, during an interview for a Creative Writing course, the interviewer told me that my writing wasn’t good enough and that I should pursue something else. I was heartbroken and discouraged. I applied to study Journalism as a last resort but decided during the interview that it wasn’t the type of writing that I wanted to partake in. I was able to transfer my choice to an English course which included creative writing elements.
By this stage, the only people reading my writing were strangers across the globe. I never spoke about my blog with anyone from my real life, it was still very much a secret. I was posting regularly but I was still finding my way, still attempting to decipher the type of writing that I wanted to pursue. When I began my university course, we were asked to write a poem about our bedroom and share it with others. When it came to sharing, I can wholeheartedly say that it was one of the most terrifying moments of my life.
There are two types of writing; one that is like pouring your blood into words and the other like shedding dead skin cells. For me, writing is the former, and my words are a fragment of me. I grow inside them and so to critique my writing would be a critique of my emotions, of my thoughts, of myself. I spent years writing and not showing anyone so when I passed my poem along to my peers, I was petrified.
When other people began to read their poems, I realised that nobody wrote like me, nobody carried the vein of darkness through their writing. This made me think that my work wasn’t good enough, that I wasn’t good enough. However my lecturer read the poem and sent it back with the words “can I publish?” She loved it and wanted to use it for the university newspaper. After that, several of my pieces were published in the university newspaper and it slowly began to make me realise that this was something that I could do. I didn’t know what I wanted a career in, all I knew was that I wanted to write, I needed to write. When I graduated, I decided to do a Masters in Creative Writing. I was accepted without an interview; they had read my work and decided that I was good enough. This is where things began to change.
I was surrounded by some of the most talented writers; their words blew my mind and left me entirely astounded. I was not good enough; I was not in the same league as these people but they inspired me to write differently, to think differently. I began to post more creative pieces on this blog as a means of exploration. My Masters introduced me to a whole new genre of writing and this is where I was introduced to Frederico Garcia Lorca. His writing wholeheartedly revolutionised my entire world. It was dark, painful and poetic. It was then that I truly realised that my writing did not need to conform, that my style was an individual trait and that it was okay to write the way that I did. After that, I began to search for other writers. I came across Pablo Neruda and Virginia Woolf; these writers demonstrated that I could use my raw feelings and pour them into ink. Finally, I delved into the world of Sylvia Plath and my world just hasn’t been the same since. This period of my life was truly life-changing. It reaffirmed everything that I had ever known and I think I finally came to truly accept who I was and what I wanted to do. This is when I began to believe in myself and my work.
I then went on to start my own proofreading company which further exposed me to work that I would have never looked at. I also began copywriting, I was being paid to write on behalf of companies and it demonstrated just how far I had come.