I have always wanted to write. Ever since I can remember, my answer to the standard ‘what do you want to be when you grow up?’ has been the same: writer. Aged six, my mum helped me to seal up and post off my first literary masterpiece; an emotional tour de force about the adventures of two hedgehogs who lost their way in the park after dark, but, thankfully, made it home in time for tea. Unfortunately, the publishers didn’t really ‘get’ me or the art I was trying to create, and so I encountered the first hurdle on my journey towards literary greatness. Despite this early setback, I continued to write; mainly hard hitting stories about infant animals who faced some sort of difficulty (‘The Koala Who Couldn’t Climb Trees’ was the eagerly awaited sequel to the aforementioned ‘Harry and Holly go to the Park’), but who unfailingly made it home in time for tea. Those were simpler times, and little Grace appreciated the reassuring satisfaction of a predictably happy ending.
And then, as I got older, the writing fizzled. I kept a diary for a while, which I would go through intermittent phases of filling with pre-teen angst. The resulting musings are so cringeworthy that I still have a hard time reading them; it feels like a peculiar form of self torture. Still, I can’t bring myself to throw them away. In my late teens, through an intense and all- consuming relationship, and then through an unplanned pregnancy, I would sometimes splurge my thoughts onto paper, finding it therapeutic and reassuring. Whilst I was writing, I could still believe that one day I might fulfil my childhood ambitions.
Then came my daughter. I was nineteen and on a supposed ‘gap year’, deciding what the hell to do next. I deferred my place at uni, and the next year began a degree in English Lit, closely followed by a PGCE. As any parent, teacher, or human being with any common sense might appreciate, none of this left much time for writing. And so I stopped. And it all began to seem further away, out of reach, entirely unlikely.
And yet… how do you know, if you never try? This is a sentiment I have been reflecting on a lot, lately. Perhaps it is to do with the fact that my twenties are rapidly reaching their demise, or perhaps it is the fact that my daughter is a decade old in less than a week’s time. Time’s ephemerality feels more apparent than ever.
So here I am. It is the summer holidays, and I recently quit my full time teaching post in favour of part time hours (alongside some tutoring, to bolster my finances). Time is, for once, on my side. But picking up that pen is bloody daunting…
Self belief has never been my forté. I doubt my imagination, my intelligence, my ideas. Have I got anything interesting to write about? Will anyone give even the smallest of fucks about what I have to say? Will it all just sound like self- indulgent rambling? Who the hell knows. But there’s only one way to find out. And what to write about? Well, I’m following that old, well worn advice to write what you know. So, making every effort to be unapologetically open and true to myself, here I go.