I remember primary school distinctly. Being maybe 7 or 8 years old, and not being able to wait until dinner time so that I could quickly rip my book from my bag and read a few pages in the dinner queue. I was renowned for it. The teachers thought it was lovely… the other kids probably thought I was slightly strange. I didn’t really care though. These days kids probably check their facebook and twitter in the dinner queue! I think I had a reading age of 14+ by the age of 8 or 9, which is quite impressive I suppose looking back. It was normal for me at the time.
To illustrate this; I had read all the books in Virginia Andrew’s Flower’s in the Attic series before leaving primary school. Perhaps I was 10? As an adult that does seem rather weird given the creepy subject. Don’t get me wrong, it wasn’t the kind of thing I normally went for; a socialite mother locking her four children, whose father was her half-brother, in the attic so she can receive her inheritance money. My mom was reading them at the time you see. I happened to pick one up, after she had put it down for a second on the sofa, and quickly read a few pages… I was hooked and ended up stealing a few more pages whenever she put it down. In the end I overtook her and finished the series before she did! They are still, to this day, the strangest books I have ever read!
Every Saturday without fail when I was at primary school myself, my mother, and my grandmother, would go the the big library in town, and I would spend hours picking books. I might read one there so that I could take more home. I would always beg my mom to take some out for me as well as kids were only allowed 5 whereas adults could take ten. I always thought that that was a great injustice!
I loved all sorts of books but I shall give you a quick list of my favourites:
- Swallows and Amazons
- Famous Five and Secret Seven
- Nancy Drew
- The Baby-sitters club
- The Stable Club
- Mallory Towers and St Clares
- Anything about ballet.
Writing? Now there is another matter altogether. I used to enjoy imagining stories, but I don’t remember writing them down very often. If I didn’t have a book then I could just as easily sit and stare into space for an hour or so, dreaming of castles and princess’s, camping and boats, solving mysteries in exotic places. I always enjoyed writing, I just don’t recall what I literally wrote down, until I was older and started keeping a diary that is. From when I was about 13 until the age of 20 I believe, sometimes I took breaks, but mainly I wrote every day. It was more of a vent for emotion than a urge to practice my writing though.
It is strange given that Journalism has been on my career wish list, so-to-speak, since I was really quite young. I don’t know whether I just knew I could write? Is that wrong? I know they say you know you’re a writer if you can’t help but write out of enjoyment, but I was far too busy reading to have time to write! It helped inform my imagination though, and I don’t think I would enjoy writing so much now if I hadn’t read so much as a child.
My writing now is for myself, and for my career. I want the solid evidence now that I can, and do write. My childhood imagination is no longer enough – it needs putting down in words.
Mind you. I guess I have wrote quite a bit without giving it thought. I have considered writing books before; I have a couple that I’ve started on my laptop. I’ve also got a few travel journals from all the places I have been; detailing every day of every fantastically fun journey, spanning five continents. After starting this blog I have even tried poetry; and to my surprise I really rather enjoy it! Fiction, non-fiction, opinion, poetry… I devilishly savour them all!
I truly believe they all stem from a basic love of books. Not just love; passion. A passion whose flames will forever continue to burn, without flicker. My superpowers manifested themselves, along with that passion, in the library all those years ago… in between the pages of Nancy Drew’s latest mystery, or a Famous Five adventure.
It is funny you know; I went back to that library for the first time in ten or fifteen years not long ago, expecting it to be massively grand and magical. I could not believe how small it was! I could feel the magic powers that had enticed me for so long start to fizzle and fade as soon I came through the doors and the reality hit me. The castle in mind was actually a bungalow. It was really quite sad.
I shall never forget that feeling though, and I try to hold on to those memories, and that magic, however I can. I hope it is infused in the words I write now, and those I will write in the future.