(Here’s an image of how I didn’t look when I was younger. Plus this image wrongly depicts my attitude to writing, but you get the gist!)
When did I know I wanted to become an author? Well, as cliché as it is (and it is indeed a massive one!), it started when I was a child. I forget how old I was, but the main source of inspiration, besides from my family and network of friends and teachers, was Harry Potter. For me those novels offered an exciting chance to escape into this fictional world where – quite literally – magical things would happen. They were fresh and inspiring, and so, I began to think about writing my own stories.
When I got home from school on the week day I would grab my Harry Potter notepad and a pen and begin writing alternative versions of some of the novels. I’d use the same characters and maintain the same premise of the storyline, but adding in my own few extras. Then it developed from there: I bought more notebooks and wrote more stories. My friend and I would sometimes write together using a small James Bond notebook at lunchtime (it’s funny, the little details the brain can remember), and then I would develop it once I got home – without his prying eyes and awful suggestions.
My creativity didn’t stop there, oh no. As part of our school English programme we were asked to team up in pairs and write some poetry. Then, one poem from the school would be selected to appear in an anthology of other poems. And, lo and behold, the poem I submitted with my friend was selected and published in an anthology.
What inspired me the most about this was the finished product. Holding the anthology in my hands once it was all finalised and printed. The actual notion that I had done something of worth and been recognised for it and the pride that came with it, was unprecedented. Perhaps you could call it an egotistical/vanity thing, but I think it is more than that. It shows that anyone can do anything, and the rewards that come from putting in the hard work and effort are worth it.
But! It wasn’t all book deal after book deal for ten year-old me (as much I wish it was!), no. As I began to grow older and as I grew up with the digital age, my attentions quickly changed from books to games consoles and the television. Once I was old enough to understand what they were, my mind became warped by them and I forgot the power of words. In fact, I think the only times I ever read were when I was on holiday and there was nothing else to do, and as part of the English school curriculum – probably not what you were expecting to hear!
As the years progressed through secondary school, some of our tasks in English were to in fact write stories. Here, my inspiration came flooding back to me and my desire to write joined with it. But again, it was the same thing as before, and as I was getting towards the end of my secondary education, the influx of socialising and the fact none of my friends saw reading and writing as “cool”, I soon stopped and didn’t pick up pen to paper for a few years.
What changed then? I hear you ask. Well, the answer in one word: university. When it came to looking at what I wanted to do with my life, I had always decided I wanted to be a lawyer, but my only motivations for this was the rather generous paycheck at the end of it. And then I thought, what is the point in doing something I’m going to be spending most of my day doing, stressing out, not enjoying, just so I can earn lots (enough) money? I didn’t. So then I thought long and hard about what I really wanted to do, and what I enjoyed doing – because we should all do something we enjoy in life. And if you need a twenty year old to tell you that then it is up to you whether you wish to listen to it or not!
I then changed my mind and applied for a creative writing course at the University of Surrey, and was accepted (Whoop! Whoop!). And then from then onwards I have discovered my love for writing again. Having to create 2,000 word short stories was what I wanted to be doing – and I was, so it all worked out well enough in the end.
What next then? Well, that is the million dollar question, isn’t it. Of course, the dream is to publish and become recognised for my work. But so far: baby steps. Baby steps is what I need to take in order to succeed, and that is what I am doing. We all start off somewhere and here is where I am. And what’s the harm in dreaming big? Only the successful people do.
So, if I’m pursuing my dreams, what are yours, and what are YOU doing to achieve them?
(Here’s an image of an author celebrating something. I don’t know what, but people find humour in all different sorts of things.)