It’s not that I love writing, although I really do love writing. It’s that I need writing. I need to take that time to sit and reflect. I need to create stories out of this changing world that doesn’t always make sense. I need to reach those obscure corners of my mind that I would not have access to otherwise. I need to pour out my heart, to reach people, to connect. I need to say the unspoken, to let you know you’re not alone, to inspire hope.
A writer needs readers. So, if you are new to my blog, I warmly welcome you. If you’ve read anything by me before, thank you so much for helping me develop as a writer, and welcome back. Particularly, if you read my awful chick-lit novels while we were at school. Thank you for believing my work would turn into something better, and for sticking by me.
I am hoping, with this post, to give you some idea of my journey to this blog. I want everyone to know that we start with passion, not skill. We are not born accomplished, no matter what our aptitude looks like. Determination, grit and social support are more crucial to success. So, whatever your passion, I hope my story will inspire you to take that leap of faith to pursue what you love.
I’ve been attempting to write readable content since I was about twelve-years-old. And let me tell you, I had to write a lot of crap out of my system before I produced anything of remote quality. I received scathing criticism from my adolescent readers, which made me depressed and apathetic before I began to learn from it.
I was awarded mediocre marks in creative writing at school. This made me hate myself, until I later realised it meant nothing. My poetry was deemed too raw and too deep. My stories had ‘no plot’. My novels were abysmally shallow, though I was not the least bit so. Then they became shockingly dark, frightening young audiences.
For some reason, I kept writing. I wrote through the night, I wrote at break time and lunchtime, I carried manuscripts everywhere I went, and I took extensive notes of any feedback I could get. I read a lot too. I read terrible vampire novels and bad teen fiction, which I shamelessly enjoyed. But I kept a critical eye on their weaknesses. I read good fiction with admiration and desperation, doubting myself constantly.
Then one day, when I was sixteen, my friend was reading my first chapter for the fantasy novel we were working on together. My bluntest, most brutally honest friend. I braced myself.
“It’s amazing,” she said. I felt this warmth; this profound sense of an empty space being filled. I knew I had to keep going. I rewrote my most long-standing novel, which began to shape up. I attempted a short story; a writing form which I had always hated in English. But I got surprisingly positive feedback and was urged to write more.
Blogging did not occur to me until my university years. I was studying psychology, which I loved, but I had become disillusioned with the unspoken fact that half the students around me were suffering from mental health problems. I began an anonymous blog, hoping to break down some of the stigma surrounding common emotional disorders.
The response I got was incredible, heartening and beyond anything I expected. Students were getting in touch to say I had saved them from suicide. I learned that people were kind, not judgemental. Everyone, it seemed, knew what I was talking about. They were just glad someone had plucked up the courage to say it. I continued to publish post after post, maintaining the blog for over two years. I realised the power I had to improve the lives of young people. I could inspire so much, just through honest, autobiographical writing, which brings me here.
Today, I would like to speak to you all as my named self. I would like to begin this second blog, building on the same principles of sharing and reflecting on common emotional experiences. I have graduated from university now. I have nearly finished my first coming-of-age novel (the one I first attempted when I was twelve) and have put together a thematic collection of short stories and poems. I am braver, stronger and wiser. I also have tons to learn, and I think I learn best by writing.
My main ‘learning objectives’, if you will, surround health, wellness and productivity. I need to learn how to function as an adult in the scary graduate world. I need to keep well in stressful working environments. I need to decide what student habits I should kick at this point (see my next post on Sober October).
I also need an audience. I need readers who will learn from my experiences, but who will additionally challenge me and question my ideas. We have a lot to figure out, as young people.
I hope that you will join me on this journey.