Come play inside a writer's brain, scary!

Last time I blogged about Russell T Davies and his wonderful insight into the writing life in Dr Who The Writer’s Tale. This massive book contains so many great quotes about writing that I’ve been tweeting them for the past couple of weeks.

Then I came to this quote: “In my head, I was writing all the time, in the sense of making up stories, but I thought that was just thinking. I thought everyone did it.” p321


Immediately I remembered being about eight years old, walking to school with my younger sister, spinning stories to her to pass the time. Like Russell T. Davies, I thought everybody made up stories. It never occurred to me that normal kids didn’t make their pocket money by entering stories and poems in competitions run by the Sunday papers.

My latest novel, aptly named "With a Little Help"

At 12, I wrote the story for a ballet with no idea how it should be done, and no Google to research such things. I won the prize,  tickets to see the Netherlands Dance Theatre in Sydney, and went with my mother. What no one told us, and presumably the paper, was that this company danced in the nude. I’m not sure who learned the most from the experience, me or my conservative Scottish mother, but it was certainly unforgettable.

I was about 16 when my father showed some of my writing to a friend in advertising, and I discovered I could earn a living as a copywriter, beginning a career in retail advertising where I met the love of my life. Publicity writing and journalism followed, then nonfiction books and the joy of writing something I loved – romance novels, which I’m still doing. All because I made up stories long before I knew what a writer was.

As a child, did you make things up in your head? When did you realise this was a special gift? Were you able to turn your gift into a career, or did that have to wait until you could afford the time to turn your ideas into books? Many women are too busy raising a family to write until later in life. Perhaps that’s you. I’d love to hear some of your experiences.




Comments on: "When did you first realise you were a writer?" (4)

  1. I still remember the first line of the novel I started when I was ten! Unfortunately it was never finished and went missing in the move to New South Wales when I was 12. I can still remember the divan drawer where the precious manuscript lived on the side verandah of the old Queenslander and the lovely shivers that would run up my spine as I wrote about my heroine, Julia.
    Fast forward a lifetime, university, marriage,career, children, grandchildren, and the second novel of my life written this year, forty six years later.I am happy to say the third and the fourth are under way in a much shorter time frame! The best part… the shivers up my spine are still the same!

  2. Welcome Annie, it’s great that you were able to come back to writing and still feel excited by the process. My first novel had a happier fate. Written in pencil in an exercise book when I was about nine, it survived many moves and now lives in the State Library of NSW who have been collecting my literary papers for a long time. Interesting to see that, while my knowledge of craft and my themes grew and matured, my writing voice remained basically unchanged since that first book. I wish you could go back and read yours. Keep those shivers coming.

  3. Hi Valerie. I can’t remember when I didn’t make up stories or had things going on in my head. The only time I ever verbalised it was “talking on behalf of” any animals around me. Realising it wasn’t the normal and a special gift….well, I suppose I’m still very much in that state now.

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