. I’ve been to a few writer’s talks, and one question I notice gets asked a lot. Well, two. First being, where do you get your ideas (seriously, does any writer actually really know the answer to that one?), the other being, how did you start writing? Well, that second one I can answer.
Ten years ago, it was a very hot summer. I hadn’t written much then – a few fanfics, that was all, for sheer enjoyment, nothing else. Then one night, going out for the evening, I fell down the stairs.
I picked myself up, carried on to my night of raucous drunken behaviour, spent a week pushing trolleys round at work (I worked in a library) and on Friday, when my ankle was still swollen and in pain, I went to the doctor.
Turned out I’d snapped a ligament in my ankle. So, I was signed off work for a very long time, and told not to walk too far – or anywhere really.
So I had all this free time, and no where to go. I read and read and read, but as I read, something niggled at me. None of the stories were quite right – I wanted a fantasy story – but something different from the fantasies available (this was before the days of Harry Potter, Garth Nix, et al). I wanted a love story – but something more intense than the snappy, shallow modern tales (I’d read all the classics – I’d just finished a literature degree). I wanted something more.
So I took some pencils, and an A4 lined pad to the park (which is very close to my house, so not much walking), and started to write. I sat in the sunshine, in the grass, and spun my tales of wicked men, and werewolves, and goblins, and death, and something in the fog, and a deep love and an awkward heroine (yes, I know this sounds like Twilight – my story is different, I swear!). I took them on their journey, wrote so much I got a callus on my finger, and when I’d finished it, I read it.
Some parts were bad. Some parts were okay. Some parts were so good they left me breathless. And I cried and gasped and got excited at all the right places (no laughs – I’m not very good at writing comedy, despite last week’s Seinfield moment).
And then I had a daring thought – what if I tried to get this published?
Well, I’m not a famous author, so you know I didn’t succeed. I didn’t know that much about how to sell my book back then. But it got me started on the path. I had learnt to write my own tales, and I had learnt I wanted to write more, and get my work read by others, and I started to learn how to sell my book.
Ten years later, I’ve written two more books, and a good few short stories. But this first book still has a special place in my heart. I still think it’s a good story, and I still think it has a place. So I am re-writing it again, and am going to try again to get it published. And this time, thanks to Christine and Narelle’s blogs, I have a better idea of how to get that done.
So when I’m famous, and someone asks me how I got started, I’ll reply ‘I fell down the stairs’.