Writing For The Sake Of It.
I went to sleep last night thinking about my latest fiction serial. That led me to consider just how long I had been writing. I don’t mean writing stories on a blog, or even in a notebook, and I don’t just mean the writing I embarked on when I retired and thought to keep my brain active.
From a very early age, around seven years old in my case, I felt the need to write. When we had to write a one-page essay at school, I wrote two pages.
I wasn’t showing off, or trying to look better than my school friends, I just couldn’t stop myself.
At secondary school, we got homework in every subject. That came as a shock at first, but I didn’t mind too much, as it gave me even more reason to write. I wasn’t one of those kids who griped that much about homework and deadlines, I just went home and got on with it. Even when the homework was on a science subject, or something like Geography, it involved writing.
I remember having to descibe what a glacier was, and handing in five full sheets of writing that talked about different types of ice, and how it could look blue in a certain light. I didn’t get a good mark, as I missed out the important technical stuff. But it was writing, and I enjoyed doing it.
English and History gave me full rein to write late into the night. In what was supposed to be an appreciation of one chapter in the book ‘Wuthering Heights’, I almost filled an exercise book with an analysis of the destructive relationship between Heatchcliff and Cathy. Given a History homework about the Parliamentary reform in the early 1800s, I wrote a description of the Peterloo Massacre that the History teacher remarked took longer to read than the actual massacre lasted.
At the age of fourteen, I was writing like someone possessed by words.
It wasn’t much different in another language. When studying French, the teacher insisted on taxing our ability to the limit. We were reading a difficult enough book in Englsh translation, ‘L’Etranger’ (The Outsider) by Albert Camus. Of course, our copies were not translated. We had to write some kind of overview of the book, all in French. I worked at it all weekend and handed in a full notebook. Even allowing for my mistakes in the grammar and spellings of a foreign language, it was a complete work, if I say so myself.
The teacher flicked through the numerous pages, shaking her head. Then with a smile, she said. “If Camus was still alive, I would send this to him”.
She said that in French, naturally.
After school came work, and not too much writing. I made do with ideas in a notebook, making lists, and more reading than writing. Marriage followed, and as the years went by, I had little time or reason to write. Every so often, ideas would burst out of my head onto a page in a notebook, simply because they had to. I wrote letters to friends, and even to people I didn’t know that well. Letters became my new form of writing, and were often ten pages long, written on both sides.
In 2012, I retired from work and moved up here. A friend suggested I start a blog, to perhaps note the differences between life in London, and rural Norfolk. Within a few months I was posting daily, and not long after that a lifetime of ideas, experiences, and reminiscences started to translate into fiction on my blog as short stories, then serials. Eight years later, and I just cannot seem to stop writing, even if I wanted to. But one thing has become clear.
It was always going to happen.