Ask me my hobbies and I’ll tell you a few. Depending who you are I’ll tell you that I love music, reading and fitness. If I’m feeling like sharing, then I’ll tell you a bit more. I love playing the ukulele, learning languages, yoga and seeking out petting farms so I can find a cow to brighten up my day. If I trust that you won’t laugh at me for it, then I might tell you that I have a blog, that I mostly write about mental health, wellbeing, lifestyle, that kind of thing. But what I’ll never ever tell you is that I love writing.
As a child the job I wanted most was to be a writer. I adored Jacqueline Wilson, poured over every page of the Harry Potter books (well the first 5 at least) and read the same collection of Shirley Hughes poems over and over until I knew every word. But I didn’t just love reading. I too wanted to create beautiful words on the page. I wanted other children to read what I’d written and so I wrote ferociously, filling notebook upon notebook with short stories, character descriptions and poems. I told anyone who would listen that I wanted to be an author when I grew up.
And then it all stopped.
The writing came to a halt and the passion died. It stopped when reality hit that being a writer wasn’t a smooth path as I had thought when I was younger. It stopped when it became more important to play computer games than to invent stories in my head. I know that it stopped completely when I moved house at 15. Whilst moving, the notebooks full of stories got packed away into drawers, and were never opened again. My priorities had simply changed.
Fast forward a few years to sitting my A-Levels. I’d already applied for a languages degree at university and whilst I loved reading, I still hadn’t got back into writing. I was reading A LOT. Doing that existential thing that teenagers do, searching for poetry that meant something to me, over-dramatically reading Shakespeare aloud, alone in my room (Was that just me?) I knew I wanted to write but the words weren’t coming and I had more important things to worry about, like English A-Level coursework.
Coursework that when I handed in, I received a 7/70 due to poor content and bad grammar and spelling. Coursework that when redrafted and handed in got me an A in A-Level English but had taken away any scrap of confidence I had regarding writing.
Throughout my languages degree, I constantly second guessed myself when I wrote essays. I would spend hours after finishing them up a week early, going over and over sentences, losing my mind over whether the sentence could be structured better or checking that I hadn’t made a spelling error.
Then two years ago I started blogging, and last year I started this blog, my baby, No Space for Milk and my confidence soared. The writing will never be perfect (although I still check like hell for spelling mistakes!), the sentences might be too long or I’ll do terrible things like split infinitives, but I’m writing.
Blogging has given me the confidence to write daily and not feel too worried about the final product. I’ve tried different styles, written for others and had people actually tell me that my writing is good. But most recently it’s done something for me that I haven’t been able to do in a long time. Write fiction.
For me, fiction has always been an escape. Something that has let me hide away from the world in the bad times and relax and enjoy in the good. And in my heart of hearts I’ve always wanted to pursue fiction writing. So now I am writing. And I am proud to say it.