Monday 5 November 2012

The Writer in Me

I decided I wanted to be a writer while sitting on a boat circling Manhattan. I was on holiday in the US en route to a new life in London. I was twenty-one years old. I’d just finished university in Sydney. I didn’t have the slightest idea what to do with my life.

New York City had always been a place I dreamt about. My greatest passion is movies and I’d seen NYC many, many times onscreen. I longed to be amongst the bright lights and see the beautiful city with my very own eyes. I was desperate to walk those streets and stand at the top of The Empire State Building, just like Meg and Tom in Sleepless in Seattle. ;-) So being in NYC was a real-life dream come true for this small town girl.

My world was opening. I was na├»ve and idealistic, and I could see my life spread out before me with unlimited possibilities waiting for me to grab them. It was a gloriously sunny day and I was gliding along the Hudson River with the ‘city of dreams’ beside me, and that’s when it happened. It just popped into my head.        I could be a writer.   

It wasn’t such a crazy idea. I’d always been a bookworm, and I studied English literature at university. Sure I could be a writer, I thought. How hard could it be?

Of course writing is not easy. Had that twenty-one year old known what she was letting herself in for she probably would have run in the opposite direction! Sure there are days when I sit at my desk ala Carrie Bradshaw and the ideas flow ever so sweetly from my mind to my fingers and onto the page. But there are also days where I’d rather do anything else, and actually getting the words out is pure torture.

And yet, writing remains. Ever since that moment on the boat in NYC, I’ve been a writer. It took a while for me to call myself one, and years for me to grow the confidence to put my work out into the world. But I did it. And I continue to do it.    I am a writer.

Looking back I realise the creative urge had always been there. Writing had been a source of support for me during many a teenage drama. I’d kept journals throughout my teens and my first broken heart had inspired me to write poetry and short stories (I filled notebooks with stories about him changing his mind and declaring his undying love!) Writing was therapeutic for me. It was where I made sense of what was happening in my life. And as the years have passed from that initial spark of ‘I could be a writer’, writing has allowed me to work out who I am and what I want from life.

Writing fiction in particular is a fascination because I like creating characters and then watching as their behaviour unfolds. Fiction allows me to take those real-life moments I may have witnessed or experienced and turn them into something different. Something straight out of my imagination! :-)

Seeing my novel Run to Me being read by others reminds me just how far I’ve come from that initial spark of an idea. No matter where my future writing life might take me, every time I think back on that moment in New York City I will be grateful for that twenty-one year old me who decided to be a writer and who threw herself so fearlessly into being one. Without her bravery I may never have discovered the joy a creative life can bring. And I wouldn’t be sitting here writing these very words.

** I was just in NYC again a month ago – I was lucky to miss Superstorm Sandy. My heart goes out to those New Yorkers who lost loved ones during the storm, and my thoughts are with the city as it recovers. **