What Made You Pick Up That Pen?

Okay, it’s less likely to be a pen nowadays, and more likely to be a keyboard. But back in the ‘olden’ days (circa 2003 AD lol!), I was still using a pen. I picked one up the other day and I swear I couldn’t hold it properly, but that’s another story…

What made you become a writer? For me, I can pinpoint the exact moment I decided to become a writer. I was seven years old, and I used to love writing short stories, and putting them into my own little ‘books’. The books were in fact sheets of A4 white paper folded in half and stapled together, with all of the illustrations done by yours truly. While I was writing one of these one day, (A very random story about a fairy finding a caravan in the woods, if I remember rightly…yeah, I was a weird kid.) my nana came in and said, smiling, “You should be a writer when you grow up.”

The thought planted itself in my young brain, and made my head explode. Up until that point, I had just thought stories were something that adults did in their spare time, or perhaps I simply thought that stories fell from the sky. Something amazing dawned on me. That when I grew up, I could actually write stories as a job. I decided from that moment that whatever else I may do, Miranda Stork was going to be a writer.

The reason I was so inspired to write those short stories in the first place is down to a mixture of dark fairy tales, such as my favourite Red Riding Hood, and a wonderful lady called Enid Blyton. Despite the children in her books talking like they had just stepped out of a time machine from fifty years ago, and that children freely explored the countryside on their own, I fell in love with her stories. I had about 2500 Enid Blyton books by the time I was ten. I would buy one every week with my pocket money, scouring charity shops for old Famous Five or Mallory Towers books. I would devour these stories, lost in a world of midnight feast at school, ginger beer popping all over the place, and wicked villains roaming around desolate islands.

Even her stories from when I was very tiny stick with me. I remember a lovely story about a pixie riding about on a bumble-bee, with pots of pink paint. Why? Because he painted those gorgeous pink parts on the underneath of daisies, that’s why! Another one as a warning to children who bite their nails (yes, I was one); where several children get invited to a party by some friendly gnomes, where they get served their favourite foods. A little girls who bites her nails goes along, and all of the children are told that they will be served their favourite food. So of course, while everyone else gets ice-cream and sticky buns, she gets a plate of metal nails. The poor gnomes are so confused when she runs home crying, as they thought that was what she liked best! Another was about someone who has a day of great luck, but is annoyed all day by a sharp stone in their shoe. They finally throw it away, a small blue stone, but then get told it was a lucky rock! I always looked very closely at any stones I may have got in my shoes from that day on.

Her imagination was so colourful, it planted the seeds of my own. That was definitely the beginning of my need to be a writer. But as I got older, I wanted something different from the fairy stories and midnight feasts. So I turned to my other favourite author, Charles Dickens.

Charles Dicken’s characters were so alive, so full of flaws and traits, that I could hear their voices as I read, see their tattered clothing sweep in front of me. He was a great commentator of his day of not only the poor (although they are undoubtedly the main focus for many of his books)but of people in general. The other reason I loved Charles Dicken’s is that he had a darker side; he also wrote a slew of ghost stories-the most famous perhaps being A Christmas Carol. But he wrote many more that were a great deal more terrifying, and I ate them up when I found them. To this day, Great Expectations is my favourite book, the mixture of the two (as Miss Haversham is obviously the ‘ghost’ of this story, despite still being very much flesh and bone.).

Throughout school, I realised I had a talent for knitting words together. It became my focus to write more and more stories that no-one else had written, and at the age of fourteen, I decided to write a novel. I managed to write 150 pages of the worst, cheesiest teen paranormal romance anyone has ever written. (I think I was going through a huge Point Horror phase at the time 🙂 ) I kept it for a year before ripping it up and binning it.

I didn’t bother to write again until 2007, when a friend wrote a first chapter for a novel on a community writing site. It was a terrible first chapter, and he won’t mind me saying that. I decided to write one of my own in response to his, and the first chapter of Conner was born. I had been playing around with the idea for a while, and finally put it to paper. (Or screen.) It was published two years later, and sat on a shelf for a while. I left it fairly alone until late last year when I decided to re-write it (as I had now written Erin, it’s sequel), and re-publish it as it is now.

But I’ve gone off-topic here. Other writers made me want to write, but I always felt I had that spark, that need inside myself anyway. But I feel that maybe a lot of writers-and most children-are like this. They are born with this wonderful, sparkling little seed that allows them to see the world in a different way to everyone else; but if you leave the seed alone, it eventually dries up. However, if you feed it and nourish it, watering it with books and stories, it begins to take root, and grows up to be a big grown-up writing plant inside your mind. So perhaps everyone can be born a writer, but only true writers let the seed take root.

How about you? What made you pick up the pen and begin to write? I’d love to hear your stories… 🙂

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