I don’t know about anyone else, but I started writing stories because I had to. It, being a writer, was what I wanted to be, but more importantly, and far more primal, was the need to tell stories. I needed to write them down, the tales that flowed in fractured circles in my head; the lost daydreams that never made it to completion. I think part of me wanted to capture the dream entire, to complete the story that began as I looked out a classroom window (yes, really), or woke up thinking about, or got absorbed in as I walked through the wind, rain, and sunshine of my youth. I wanted to hold on to the shining moments my imagination provided me, to somehow share those moments with others. Part of it undoubtedly was the desire to show off what I could do, what I loved to do, but I think of that as a surface desire in comparison to the need to just to write stories down.
As I started to write novels as a teenager, what was my intention? I think, hazily, to write something as good as what I had read, except with more of everything I liked in it! My first two novels are a testament to that: especially the sequel, where I just added in everything I liked from any other book I had read and loved and tried to mash it all together into something that worked. I think the growing realization that all these separate things could not play together was part of why that epic five book series was abandoned two thirds of the way through book two. That and moving back to Edinburgh, and gaining a more active teenage social life…
The other big intention in my early writing was also the reason I read so much: escape. I had so desperately wanted to find my way to Narnia as a child, and had been frankly disappointed when I hadn’t made it. I think it almost cruel to write stories that instill such a destined to never be fulfilled yearning in some children. I wonder how many kids of more recent generations have searched and searched for platform 9 ¾ in vain? I am sure I would have been one of them.
So, having reluctantly made it to puberty and thusly been denied Narnia, I had to find a new escape. I continued to read, but it didn’t cut it as much as it had as a child, the promises of other worlds less believable now to my jaded sensibility. I realized I had to make my own escape, my own worlds I could visit at any time, and that I could never be denied entry into. Those worlds began as daydreams, as I said above, but then I worked to tie them down and make them concrete, an avalanche of words to hold them in place. I could escape, and tell the stories that flourished within me and had to be told, and have an extra way to enjoy my favourite books by drawing the best parts of them (to my mind) into my own fiction. My early writing trifecta!
Then I went to college. And intentions and desires became fused with something else: ambitions. I’ll chat about them next time.
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