A beginning is a scary place to be. All that blank space ahead to fill in with something. You want it to be something profound, something meaningful… At school it was always important to write the first page of a new exercise book in the neatest handwriting possible, for appearance’s sake.
I have started many stories and rambling things that almost become complete. I am not someone who converts their tries very often, unless there’s a specific deadline to meet or people are relying on me. I have successfully completed NaNoWriMo four years running, in that I got to fifty thousand words, but the actual narratives remain unfinished on my laptop. Sometimes I go back and tinker, add a thousand words here and there, move things around… and then they sit for a while. And then November rocks around again and I have a new idea and off I go with a blank document again.
I have good intentions. I have excellent intentions, in fact, and they are leading me down a road to somewhere quite hot and full of sinners. I am determined – with all of you as my witnesses – that I will complete something (and hopefully many somethings) and do something with it and put it out there in the world.
I love writing. I love stories. I have read thousands from different genres, different cultures, in different languages, and I love the feel of them. There’s something about a good story that feeds the soul, even if it’s tried and tested and you know what’s coming around every corner and even if you have to stop reading for a while because it got too intense, or too sad, or too disturbing; it’s all good for your insides.
If I didn’t read for pleasure, I think I would actually go insane. I do not understand why people don’t like reading. I know it can take time to find a genre or an author or a trope that interests you, but the important thing is to keep opening new books and reading first pages until you get there. Each hardback is like the lid of a treasure chest. I love it.
Somewhere along the line, I started writing my own things. I remember sitting at our old Acorn computer in the box room at my parents’ house bashing away at the grotty beige keyboard writing a story. I wrote a story about Little Grey Rabbit where everyone cheered a lot. Yup. Fanfiction. Aged eight. I was ahead of my time, dear Internet. As I moved up through into secondary school English quickly became my favourite subject. Re-imagine the shipwreck at the beginning of Twelfth Night from the point of view of Antonio? You got it. Write a story to explain the rock cycle for Geography? No problem. Character POV diaries from our exam texts, updated fairytales, or ‘what happened next’; it made no odds to me. I sharpened my claws on 8mm feint ruled paper.
The Internet made it to our house. Dial up, ye gods. A whole new world opened up to me. I started roleplaying in chatrooms, telling my origin story to virtual taverns filled with mysterious travellers and rafters packed with dark elves. I started writing fanfiction again – consciously this time – and I think it’s probably still there on livejournal somewhere… I wrote original stuff, too, and pretty much all of it was high fantasy. I was heavily influenced by David Gemmell at the time.
By the time I went to university and got dragged into NaNoWriMo by an enthusiastic and competitive flatmate, I’d written a fair whack of stuff. All of it unfinished, a lot of it lost or password protected on the family computer which was pretty much the same thing since I used a different password for every document and couldn’t remember them all. Or the password to the master list of passwords, more annoyingly.
I want to go beyond beginnings. I want to make it to the very end and even further. I want to get to the end of a draft and then go back and edit and polish and tweak and prod the thing until I hate it and then fall in love with it again and publish it. That’s the dream, kids. A dream that began with a grotty beige keyboard and a child repeatedly misspelling ‘hooray’ as ‘horray’.