A year or so ago my dad, now in Australia, sent me one of the first things I ever wrote. It was a story about Paddington Bear, Michael Bond’s much loved, slightly hapless, very furry refugee from Peru. I loved the world of kindness, mishaps and marmalade that the author had created and wanted to add to it in in my own way. So I created my first piece of fan fiction, illustrated with my own pictures. (Note – if you’ve never read Paddington, it’s not too late – see why here!) Receiving the booklet made me reflect on how I had begun my life as a writer – something that would wax and wane across the years but never die out.
An early reader, I began writing my own stories when I was seven. I remember filling narrow spiral bound notepads with action stories featuring James Bond and The New Avengers. (I was hopelessly in love with Joanna Lumley as Purdey, whose poster was pinned to my wall, crying when each series finished).
But my writing really took off when I started writing books with my school friends as the main characters. I was eleven and wrote the first one, Sheriff John Ives, a tale of carnage and revenge set in the gritty Wild West, during a long summer holiday at my Nan’s house in Eastbourne. All the stories involved high action in a wide range of genres, from Sci-Fi to the English Civil War, Viking invasions to chaotic WW2 battlefields. Almost everyone invariably came to a sticky end – but for some reason my friends still loved reading them. As each was finished it was passed excitedly around the class. Other children began writing their own stories in the same vein. For a year or two it became a new ‘craze’.
Somehow – I don’t know how, I never made a conscious effort about it – I’ve managed to keep Sheriff John Ives down the years. I wrote it for my own pleasure, but was over the moon when I found others enjoyed it too. And that for me was the key to becoming a writer – doing something that I adored, but which also had an impact on people I knew. Since then, very little has changed!
I began to publish poems in my twenties. If you want to find out how I got inspired check out this post.
Have you ever written a story of your own? Or perhaps you’ve kept a story written by a child or other family member. Let me know below!