On February 13th, all participants will answer a most vital question: When and how did you first become a writer? How did it all begin? What are your writing origins?
Writing was something that kinda sneaked up on me from a distinctly unpromising background.
At school, I was OK at English but struggled with stringing together coherent thoughts on paper. It was the same with other subjects, and the one common theme was writing. I disliked it. It wasn't so much the writing of words, it was coming up with what to say in the first place. My mind always went blank.
The one subject I excelled at was mathematics, which involved no writing. Bliss!
Guess what I studied at university? Feeling insufferably smug whenever one of my friends had to pull an all-nighter. Essay crisis? Pah! Mathematicians don't write essays.
And so I continued through life, thankful never to have to write another essay or piece of creative prose ever again!
Then, in September 2004, I started getting an idea for a story. Some images formed in my mind so vivid that I felt compelled to try getting them down on the page.
To this day, I have no idea why.
So I made my first faltering and painfully self-conscious attempts to write a scene or two of a novel. It was difficult. Each time I turned to my computer screen it felt like someone was watching over my shoulder, pointing and laughing at my ridiculous attempts. But it got easier.
And then I started wondering if I was doing anything worthwhile, or if it was nothing more than self-indulgent time-wasting. I found an online critique group, submitted my first chapters, and nervously checked email for responses.
And I made a wonderful discovery.
People didn't laugh. They didn't sneer. Sure, what I had done was nowhere near publishable - but it wasn't a lost cause.
Since then, I've worked to improve. The more I learn, the more there is to learn. I still struggle with ideas, with how to torture my characters (I'm way too nice to them), how to get them into - and out of - awkward situations, but I am now proud to count writing as a serious pursuit.