…. this is my journey towards becoming a writer. I’ve been writing since I was seven (I’m now at the ripe old age of twenty-one). So you might ask what, in your opinion, makes you a writer? Having been writing so long (fourteen years is longer than some marriages!), why is it you don’t consider yourself a writer? And that’s a tough one. I’ll put it out there right away that it is not because I haven’t been published. I don’t think that publication defines in any way whether or not you are a good writer. Sometimes (and feel quite free to disagree with me) I think it is the luck of the draw. That’s completely another post by the way, so I won’t get into it.
I think what separates being a writer opposed to someone who writes is the work ethic. Hear me out. When I was seven, I wrote a very dark tale about a child who was kidnapped after daring to tell a stranger hi. It was something that was drilled into me by my parents and well, Barney. I’m not sure if you were as addicted to Barney as I was during my formative years or if, at any point it time you were able to cross paths with a Barney obsessed kid. But they had some good advice going on there! “Never talk to strangers – that’s really good advice. You never know if they are good or bad – even though they might seem nice“. I tell you, that’s done more for me than anything my mother has ever said. So, I started wondering what would happen to a kid who just wouldn’t give Barney the time a day and thought that it was cool to talk to strangers. As I remember it, it was originally supposed to be a comic book but that didn’t work out. Then, it was to follow an Enid-Blytonesque formulae but that didn’t work out either. If you’ve seen the way I draw you’d understand why it ended up being a picture-less novel. Thank God you will never have to be subjected to that. Anyway the novel involved a couple kids who were a part of the Police Force’s youth division who cracked the case. Why did I think a bunch of kids would have been more adept a solving a kidnapping than the police, I don’t know. But growing up, I realize that I wasn’t alone in my thinking (see: Nancy Drew, Hardy Boys and the like).
That was quite the long detour! I mentioned this to say, that as a child I wrote when I felt like it – when I had the sudden urge. It was just like reading, just like going out and failing at hopscotch, netball or basketball – it was a hobby. Now I will never be a professional WNBA player, or Netball player because I just didn’t have the talent for it. (sidebar: Netball is an early version of basketball, you’ve got two teams with seven players each. The object is to get the ball to the GS (the Goal Shoot) so that they can attempt to get it into the rim (there’s usually a Goal Keeper defending (that was my position and well, I sucked at it). It’s popular in the UK, that’s why it is popular in the Caribbean not sure about the US)
Thankfully, I must have a bit of a talent for writing – unless I have been lied to all my life and am more than a bit delusional. Now, I don’t deny that it could happen. I mean you must be aware of the thousands of persons who try out for American Idol or the X-Factor and you sit at home thinking, what gave them the bloody idea that they could sing? Hopefully I am not in the same boat. I know one thing, writing is not just a talent but it is a craft – something that needs to be nurtured and practiced. That is what I missed. I treated it like a hobby – there was no dedication. There were no three hours or four hours set aside every day that was devoted to writing come what may. I never lost any sleep because I was working on my writing. When I started my Law Degree, I realized just how much dedication and sacrifice went into preparing for a career (I think I still have the Monster and Red Bull cans to prove it), so I thought to myself… I need to put this much focus and drive into my writing.
It doesn’t matter if I ever sell a book or if I ever get the validation I think so many writers crave. (My friends like my books, so does my mum but honestly how objective are your closest friends and parent for goodness sakes really? I want a stranger to come up to me and say… wow! I love it. Then I promise you I will find clouds way beyond nine that we hadn’t known existed). But in the end it isn’t about that. I will consider myself a writer when I treat writing like I treat everything else in my life that is not optional. I will consider myself a writer when I put it on the same level as I will Law School.
This is a catalogue of my journey. It might be a failure, it might be a success but I have a feeling that it will be one bumpy, magic(k)al ride. I’d be honoured if you would collect your seat belt and head gear and come along with me.