I’m learning. Apparently going home for the weekend involves me spending as little time on the Internet as possible in this day and age (which is a surprisingly small amount!) which is why I haven’t blogged in a week. I do apologise! I’m going to try and blog three times this week to make up for it.
As promised, way back when, whilst I was visiting my family, I dug out the first story I ever wrote. (I did, however, manage to completely forget to take a photograph of it… I spent a lot of time with my parents and friends and little time in my room, other than to sleep. That’s my excuse.) I typed it up, fixing spelling errors and adding it a few bits of missed punctuation. But, otherwise, this is the story as it was written back in 1996.
And, no. I have no idea why my characters sound so poncy. Back then I was reading Enid Blyton and Goosebumps. I don’t think either had dialogue like this…
The Kitten That Survived
One Christmas Eve, a family of cats were let out to play. While they were outside it began to snow. Whilst they sat there wondering what the snow was, it came down thicker and faster. Then the mother cat who was called Pippa told her kittens who were called Sooty and Snowball that they must run away from all this white stuff. So they ran far away from their home but everywhere they went there was snow.
Then Snowball said, “everywhere we go there is this white stuff. I want to go home.”
“So do we all,” said Pippa, “but I’m afraid we are lost.”
“Lost! We can’t be lost,” cried Sooty almost in despair. “Surely you know the way back, mother?”
“I’m sorry Sooty,” said Pippa, “but I don’t.”
“I’m cold, mother,” said Sooty.
“I’m starving,” wept Snowball.
“We are starving too, Snowball,” said Pippa in distress, “but we won’t find any food at this time of winter.”
Very soon a man saw the cats walking past and he went outside and gave them some food.
“Well, my beauties, what are you doing out here in the cold snow?” said the man, kindly. “Would you like to live with me?”
Well, as you can imagine, all the cats purred as if to say ‘yes please’. So they lived with the man. But, after a couple of days, they found out that the man had other cats, so next time the man opened the door they fled out of the house.
One week later they came to a busy road. And Pippa said, “just follow me across this road because it’s very busy.” So Sooty and Snowball followed their mother across the road. But a lorry came down the road just as they were crossing and it struck Pippa’s tail. She fell down in pain but she managed to get across to the other side safely. When they were all across Sooty said, “are you hurt mother? I saw that lorry hit your tail and I wondered if you were all right.”
“I’m fine, thank you Sooty,” said Pippa, but when she stood up she fell down again. “I don’t think I can go on,” whimpered Pippa.
So the kittens had to face the biggest and busiest roads, tramping feet and snowballs alone. So they said goodbye to their mother and scampered off down the path.
In a few weeks time the kittens came to a big hill. On the hill were some children sledging. The kittens started to walk across the hill but half way across a sledge suddenly came whizzing down.
“Run!” cried Sooty but before Snowball could even begin to run, the sledge bumped into her and carried on whizzing down the hill. Sooty burst into tears when he saw what had happened to his sister.
Sooty trudged on alone then as he passed a house, Sooty looked in the window and saw his family looking very upset. It had begun to snow again and Sooty was so tired that he could hardly walk up to the front door. When he did he gave a tiny meow. The family sat up at the noise and the girl ran and opened the door.
“Sooty!” she cried in amazement. “Sooty oh Sooty you’re alright! Oh I’m so glad but where’s Pippa and Snowball?”
Sooty ran down the path and the girl followed him. He led her to the hill and at the bottom they found Snowball’s body, tatty and dirty. Then he led her to where Pippa had been hit and they found her body limp and bruised. They took the two bodies back and buried them in the back garden.
Sooty, as soon as they were in the house, curled up in his basket and fell fast asleep.
This blog isn’t entirely NaNoWriMo centric (although, be warned, it will get more so as we creep towards November). I’m a writer. So, naturally, it’ll also be about writing.
I’ve talked about what NaNoWriMo means to me, and in a few blog posts time, I’ll talk about my first year NaNoing. But right now, I want to talk about what writing means to me.
I don’t remember what caused me to pick up a pen and write my first story. I vaguely remember writing it, but only just. According to the date Mum wrote on it, it was written in 1996, so I would have been 9 or 10. I have a feeling I was in year 4, though, which would make me 9 years old.
It was called The Kitten That Survived and was a heartwarming tale of a family of cats who got lost in the middle of winter. Mum cat was killed when she was hit by a car and the girl kitten was killed when she was hit by a sledge on a hill. The boy kitten made it back to their home and he took his owner to find his mother and sister and their bodies were buried. The whole story took up about two sides of blank A4 paper.
I was really proud of it. I’d written a story! My family read it and said they were proud too. Although, thinking back, it was kind of a disturbing first story for a 9 year old to write! I probably really freaked them out. I should really ask Mum about that some time.
My second story was about a girl who got kidnapped on the way home from school. I think it was actually called ‘Kidnapped’ and I’d entered a stage of writing where I felt I had to introduce all my main characters in the first paragraph, including full name age and a description. I was already learning how to write.
I’ve never looked back. Writing has always been part of who I am and an easy way to escape from the hum-drum-ness of reality. I wrote a lot of short stories growing up. I’d write anywhere if I had a piece of paper and a pen. I had notebooks filled with random bits of text and the beginnings of stories that never got finished but I liked the idea for a random opening paragraph and so wrote it down “just in case”. (Who am I kidding, I still have notebooks like this!) I ventured into teenage angst poetry for a few years, and to be honest, I don’t think I was that bad at poetry. But after I turned 18, I grew out of it. Poetry was definitely a way to vent. But I enjoyed the new creativity and I still have all my poems. I have folders and folders of them somewhere! (Some of them are also up on the Internet. But I’m not telling you where.)
When I discovered I had it in me to write novels, I found I could play with whole worlds of ideas and characters. I could mix stories together and do whatever I wanted to! Whatever world I was writing with was my oyster!
And there is something undescribable your characters being alive and taking over your story. Any writer reading this knows what I’m talking about. That moment when you meant for your story to go in one direction but, without any warning, it suddenly goes in a completely different direction as your characters get bored of following your lead and just take over. Tell that to any non-writer, and they’ll consider having you locked in a padded room. But, being a writer means you’ve always got friends along for the ride. Even if those friends are being written down on paper.
My dream for a long time has been to be published. I even did a joint degree with Creative Writing and got some fantastic tips from my tutor. But, even if I never get published, I hope I never stop writing. My life wouldn’t be the same without it.
(‘The Kitten That Survived’ is at my parents’ house. I’ll bring it down to London when I next visit and type it up for you.)