Monday, 29 July 2013

Why I Write

Those of you who know me well will know that I like to write fiction. You may even have found this blog via my website, where I’ve posted some of my writing. In this blog post I wish to share with how I came to be a writer, and to try and explain the reasons why I write – something which is not always easy for writers to explain.

I’ve always been a story teller, ever since I was a little boy. At school when I was very young I would often be brought to the front of the class to tell a story to everyone else. I only have very vague memories about what these stories were actually about – I know there was one about a girl (who, in my head, didn’t look unlike Claire Usher) who lived on a cloud.

When I was about 8 me and another boy in my class were brought outside our classroom and sat in front of a computer – this would have been c. 1989 and computers weren’t that common in our school at this time, and so it was a rare treat to get to use one. Our teacher simply told us to write a story on the computer, and so we did. I remember that we took it in turn to write sentences, and I think the story was about a boy who told lies.

Every so often I would write stories during these years of my life, such as my Ultimate stories. For me, it was a way for me to express myself creatively. Considering my lack of drawing ability, I found writing was an accessible form for me to express myself, and whatever it was that was going on in my head at the time.

When I was a young teenager I turned to writing poetry, which I find to be a much more personal form of writing. I had a lot of turmoil going on inside my head when I was that age (although I suppose it was no more than what goes on inside any teenager’s head), and, again, my poems were a way of expressing that. I’ve discovered a couple in my archives, one of which comes to about 1,400 words. These poems were very personal – and so I definitely won’t be sharing these here...

But it would have been around the year 2000 (when I was 19) where my writing went off into a decisive new direction. I had a website at the time about a children’s TV show that I liked, and it was at this time that I decided to try writing fanfics based on it. At first I started writing them one chapter per week (with each chapter being around 1,000 words). By about the sixth week I was starting to struggle, and I contemplated taking a week off (aware that, if I did this, it would be all too easy to just stop altogether).

However, I then received the following in an e-mail from a reader:

“Your site is excellant [sic] and I love [your fanfic]!”

And the same reader posted the following in my site’s guestbook:

“YOur site is cool, even extreme! I nearly die each week waiting for [...] [your fanfic] stories, i have to wait until saturday [sic] because of the time line! Keep up the great work,”

Seeing these messages helped to spur me on, and I got on and wrote the next chapter. It was nice to know that there was at least one person out there who appreciated what I was writing.

I wrote these fanfics over a couple of years, and their total length came to a little over 100,000 words. Why did I write these fanfics? Initially it was because I wanted to explore the world that the show was set in, and try out my own original story in it. These fanfics eventually became my “training ground” for writing stories – whilst I initially tried to emulate the style of the show, my own voice and style eventually shone through, and it’s this style that I’ve developed ever since. Some of these fanfics worked out well, and some not so well – but I learnt from all of them.

I wrote the last of these fanfics around 2001, and then didn’t do too much writing for a while after that. I had a go at a few things, but they didn’t really work out. Then, in 2006, I found out about National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo), where people aim to write a novel of at least 50,000 words in one month (November). I wasn’t brave enough to go for it in 2006, but the following year I did, and I’ve done it every year since.

My full NaNoWriMo exploits is something to be saved for a later blog post. But what I can say here is that Nano has helped me to develop my writing further, as I’m actually able to get first drafts of big projects done during this time.

As to what I write about, and why, in my early writing days it was about finding a way to express myself, and what was going on inside my head. But, later on, it is now more about simply sharing stories. I like to construct long, complicated plots, with big, unexpected twists towards the end. Sometimes I may try to work through something in my life by writing something in allegory, but not so often – and these stories are rarely shared. So, if you read any of my fiction writing, don’t see it as a means of trying to figure out what’s going on inside my head – you’ll almost certainly get it wrong...

I now have many, many stories buzzing around my head. Stories that wish to be told. So I have to tell them, I have to write them down. I like the power that writing can give – to be able to capture someone in the world of a story, to entertain, enthral, and, hopefully, surprise them. I write the sort of stories that I would like to read.

I would like to get published one day, and be a successful author, but I know that’s a very hard thing to achieve. Even if I never achieve it, I will still keep on writing, and sharing my stories with whoever wishes to read them.

Because writers have to write.

And nothing will stop them...

Next Week: Memories of a Teacher

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