Within this essay, I reflect on my own writing history and practice.
Growing up, I was read many books, the likes of The Chronicles of Narnia, Alice in Wonderland and Peter Pan in Scarlet. All of these protagonists have paths, their lives have purpose and destination. The concept of which had a massive effect of my own beliefs. I am genuine believer of paths. I believe all decisions, even as a child, craft the direction you'll walk to on the foundations of self-belief.
I started writing in the summer of '05 at a caravan park on the Northumberland Coast near Amble. I had written poetry all of my childhood; misspelled declarations of adoration to my Mother, and demanding she carry them at all times with butterfly clips for good luck. However, I very distinctly remember the first ever prose I wrote. I sat at a fold out table and hand wrote a fairytale kingdom wherein my 2-year-old cousin Morgan was King, had a son named Tom and his sister Cerys came to visit their Castle. It was a murder mystery, adventure and resulted in Morgan pushing a villain off a cliff. Luckily, there was a prison at the bottom and the police were ready to soften his fall. This was the beginning of my path.
I created many different magical lands and characters, publishing them online to a writing site I had begged my parents to pay my subscription to. Then in the Winter of '09, I read The Twilight Saga. I had never read a book trilogy before and had never engrossed myself completely into a novel that I didn't eat for 3 days. Finally, a novel about a teenage girl struggling with divorced parents, self-image and trying to find her way in a place she didn't feel she belonged in. I had never felt such resemblance to a protagonist. It did not take long before I became captivated by characters born in a time I had never given thought to. Carlisle Cullen, a pastor's son born in the 1800s destined to become a vampire and determined to defy the norm. Instead of killing humans, he became a doctor and saved millions. All this despite his struggle with religion, ethics and the changing historical perspectives he lived through.
"What I mean is, it's not like you asked for this. You didn't choose this kind of life, and yet you have to work so hard to be good."
"I don't know that I'm making up for anything," he disagreed lightly. "Like everything in life, I just had to decide what to do with what I was given." -Carlisle Cullen, New Moon
Jasper Whitlock, a Confederate Army Major born in the 1600s being tortured and abused to the point where his entire human identity was stolen from him. Trying to fit into modern day society, battling depression and feeling misplaced.
"In so many years of slaughter and carnage, I'd lost nearly all of my humanity. I was undeniably a nightmare, a monster of the grisliest kind. Yet each time I found another human victim, I would feel a faint prick of remembrance for that other life." - Jasper Hale, Eclipse
Twilight, to this day, is still a major obsession. It introduced Fan Fiction to my life, and up until University; I found I could not write a story without inevitably turning it into a Twilight Fan Fiction. Though this was not all of my own creative juices flowing, the sheer amount that I wrote crafted my ability to touch type, improved my spelling and grammar tremendously, and aided me in molding my own voice. However, until 2014, it was only ever a hobby. It was not until University that I realised why these characters in Twilight held so much of my fascination. I love to write about the past. I love to write about protagonists being outcasts in eras long before I was born. Whether this has always been an underlining interest of mine or whether it stemmed from falling in love with these characters, I do not know but I am glad that these novels resonated with me so much.
I stood within the suburban crowd, swaying idly to Buddy Bolden playing over a choir of animated chatter, with a dincher in one hand and a bottle of Blue Ribbon in the other. Where was Frances? Lord only knows. I can't believe she stranded me here alone just to go off to waste her hush money on a slimp. And they call me foolish. - Alice Norton, For the Love of Grace
In first year of university, Writing 1 was my most challenging unit. I had not written poetry for a very long time, thankfully there was only one assignment where poetry was mandatory.
Sprinting around town is a nipping breeze-
Prancing and twirling up through the trees.
Branches shake furiously-
Crisp leaves tumble dubiously.
Spiraling down to the damp trodden path-
Damned to be crushed by snow boot wrath.
Autumn is here, its colours in town-
Golden, crimson yellow and brown,
This season begins with the rain and the cold-
Spreading its sickness through the young and the old,
It ends much the same, trees a bare brown splinter-
Alerting humanity to the incoming winter.
Once the poetry block finished, I wrote a note in my journal telling myself to never write it again because I was terrible at it. I still avoid it at all costs. As well as not finding myself able or understanding of poetry, I also found little enjoyment in writing it and this was most likely the reason I had little desire to improve it.
I have a love hate relationship with memoir. Not only do I find it difficult to choose a branch in my life that I think is interesting enough to write down but I found it was also hard to sieve through memories I found were painless enough to revisit. Despite this, in first year, I wrote a prose chapter on the day I found out my ex-boyfriend was cheating on me.
I wasn't sure when I'd started crying. Maybe it was where said he didn't want to be with me, or the part where he told her all my insecurities which I'd shared in confidence - though it could have been the bit where he told her loved her just over a month ago. It didn't matter though; all I know is that I closed the laptop with blurry vision. - Two Sides
In second year, I put together a booklet of diary excepts from my life around the same time.
Strangely, writing this all down doesn't make me feel better. Knowing nobody will ever know how I feel kind of makes me feel bad. It just makes me reflect on the people's lives that could have been better if I wasn't in them. - Dear Freddie
I found it is easier to put my most difficult times in writing for memoir as I do not have to force emotion or drama. I preferred using the diary excepts for my memoir assignment, using my own words from a period of my life that was many years ago gives the memoir itself some raw emotion. I have not altered the words; I have not changed feelings I might not have felt comfortable to share because I wanted to stay true to 15-year-old me.
Oh prose, my friend.
Having wrote prose for 12 years, Fan Fiction or not, gave me a great comfort. It is my escape, the love of my past, present and future. Despite how over-protective I am of all of my stories, I do feel I have improved over the past two years. Last year, I was only beginning to understand how important elements of craft were for my writing. I would write how I always used to and then redraft and redraft to include the practices we were studying.
A cafsuch as Johnny's was no place for the likes of Belle Philips. Dark patches seized her Jimmy Choo pumps as she stalked across the carpet that resembled a molding strawberry and lime concoction. She smiled tautly and sat down at an empty window table, looking out at the close view of a damp field. She inhaled the thick coffee air that stirred a yearning for her caffeine fix of the day. Glancing at her wrist watch, she genuinely hoped he was still coming; it wouldn't feel right asking him over the phone. - A Time Like Now
Despite how much of a headache I found editing this, I still find it pleasing to read - and hilarious. Belle's Father is one bizarre character.
He strolled towards her, arms out with flat palms, as if he were holding up the tar stained ceiling. He arched his back as he walked and what little neck he had stuck to his chest while his eyes squinted and lips curled against his teeth. Belle couldn't decide what was more repugnant, his smile or the obnoxious Hawaiian shirt that had buttons missing here and there and was regrettably worn with charcoal knee length slacks and sandals. - A Time Like Now
My Dad actually wore that once. It felt liberating to write his mannerisms into a short story, a fictional therapeutic method that I loved far more than memoir. A side from that, this year I have adapted the craft into my writing that comes naturally. I know the importance of round and flat characters, I know dialogue should be revealing and aid the movement of plot, and I practice plant and payoff as much as I can, though this is still a craft I have little faith in myself in. Worrying less about elements of craft has given me a wider concentration on plots and time periods I find fascinating.
I'd never seen a Negro before; that I remember to be the complete truth. The only person I'd seen come through that wasn't pink in the flesh was a Native man who wore knitted shoes and wooden necklaces. The Negro I met first was called Richard. We didn't talk to one another till a long time after that day in the store but I still remember my initial surprise at how well dressed he was in a white shirt and checked brown slacks, not to mention how handsome I found him. - Training Wheels
At the beginning on first year, I came to university set on writing fantasy stories about witches, vampires and other supernatural beings like Twilight or Harry Potter. This genre has not been replaced this year but explored more and has been practiced.
Thrust violently into the early morn of Thursdaye, I slippt from a perch in which I was hidden most prominently. The terrour that did purge thro' my self had my chest presst firm to the elm trunk like a babe to its Mother, and the pounding that sounded thro' my head slippt thro' that of mine ears to the aire. I inhale harshly to diminish it should ears espying come upon me. Tis most amusing that town folk dost think my self and those akin are Satan's doing. - A Destined Freedom
My hope is that in the years to come, I will continue to explore time periods and alternative writing styles to adopt into my favoured genre, maybe even writing a story that inspires another young person to pick up a pen, as I myself was inspired.