I was first lured into writing at the tender age of nine (grade 4). I wrote a poem and won the Bookweek prize at my Primary School. (A book: West of Widdershins.) If only it was that easy now. I was addicted. At first it was a sporadic indulgence culminating in fourteen-year-old teenage angst poetry and a 200 + page SF book at the age of seventeen (grade 12) Note to self: Never tell writers’ groups about long past, possibly teenage angst-ridden writings. They will insist on reading it. (There is no way they will get access to the teenage-angst poetry though.)
For some time I was reformed. I knuckled down and finished my university degree. Though I did not admit it to myself, I lapsed and wrote a variety of background and stories for my passion of (now-called) tabletop roleplaying (you know – with rulebooks, dice, notebooks etc) I convinced myself that these were research and technical things and not fiction.
Then came work; practicle and scientific and for the good of others’ health. Somewhere along the line, I fell in with a comic book crowd who had scored a government arts grant. I did artwork and inking but secretly I wanted to write something. The grant ran out and I was spared the slippery slope of starting up writing again.
I pretended that the articles I wrote for the (now defunct) Roleplaying magazine Australian Realms, were more non-fiction… with pretty pictures. How could that be considered writing? Nor could the articles I wrote on other passions such as costuming – with articles on Florentine costuming (after all there was a lot of research done for those) or documenting various costumes I had made.
I almost fell into the beckoning maw of memoir writing in 2006. I was discovering things about my past that had been hidden to me. Things about my father that I had been sheltered from. I recently found some of these scratchings and was surprised that they sounded as if they were written by a real writer.
I did not realise I was a writer in primary school.
I hid the book I wrote in highschool.
I did not admit that I was a writer when penning articles for magazines.
I pushed away the ideas and writings for a memoir as I was not ready to face the daemons… quite yet.
It took a series of stressful events, for me to start rediscover the writer within me – she who has been lurking for almost forty years, not wanting to surface for the fear of rejection. This year I have given into the muse. I have uncovered things from my past, I have re-visited issues that have plagued me and I have found a catharsis in putting my thoughts and words on the page.
Subconsciously I knew that I was a writer. I had kept flirting with it but never quite giving in. It was not a safe career choice, as my mother would say. It was not until I had finished one of my short stories and actually sent it to a competition, that I started the process of admitting to myself that I was a writer.
Even then I was researching the internet to find the definition of a writer, lest I was too presumptuous in using the word; I had always thought I was not allowed to be a writer until I got something published. Only when I had been shortlisted for one of the competitons did I allow myself to use the word. Silly me. I had been a writer all along. I write because I must. When I don’t write, I am grumpy (er).
I have these weird and wonderful characters knocking on the inside of my skull, demanding to be given life. When I do write them, they have a life of their own. They have always been there. Now they are allowed to come out and play. I have a couple of novels floating around in my imagination. One has been there since university (I now have one chapter down on paper and much more in my head). The other is forming from my love of steampunk. It is populated with characters that have been trying to find a home; they now have one.
So, here it goes…
Hello. My name is Karen. I am a writer.