When you’re a younger sibling, everything you do is because your older sibling did it first. My sister could draw better than me, so I started drawing. My sister went to dance classes, so I signed up too. My sister became a vegetarian in high school, and after YEARS of persuading, she finally converted me. And my sister writes.
It’s for that reason that I can give her credit for shaping who I am, as much as my parents ever did. As much as I consider myself a casual artist, a former competitive dancer, and an animal rights believer, I am nothing if not a writer. I remember the look on my grade 12 Writer’s Craft teacher’s face when I told him I was bound to university for accounting. He said, “you should be a writer”.
When I wrote my final reflection, I told him that I was. And I always will be, no matter what I study in school, or what I do for a living. Writing is in my blood. I haven’t stopped, not since I was 9 years old.
Come with me, for a moment, to those days. My parents have a home office, and they used to have the only computer with internet. It was there that my sister and I discovered Harry Potter fanfiction, and we crafted an idea for a comedy. We wrote in script, at the time. She typed, I offered suggestions, and we laughed a lot. This was one of our favourite things to do, once we got into it.
It was scary, doing it on my own, but I put myself out there. I wrote script comedies, under the penname “Strange”, in the Harry Potter Fanfiction genre. I knew I wasn’t as funny or talented as my sister, but I did it for fun. What I didn’t realize until later was that I was taking my first steps in honing the most important skill in my life. A skill which, soon enough, would skyrocket my English marks in school. No matter what anyone says, I refuse to believe that a person can just grab a pen and write. Practice is everything.
I got older, and my subject matter changed, although I stuck with script comedy fanfiction for a long time. Eventually I joined fanfiction.net and had to start writing in paragraphs based on their regulations, but I always wrote comedy fanfiction.
I wrote my first “dramedy” at 12 or 13, starring myself as a self-insert fanfiction character, as well as my friends, conveniently matched to other characters. Awful? Maybe. But reading it now, it makes me so happy, because it was such a big step in bringing me to where I am now. It was years before I decided to stray from the fanfiction scene, and change those names because the characters had become mine. It was years still before I started to form characters of my own, not based on me, a friend, or a show or book I liked.
I have what some people I know call a “head story” – the default storyline that you turn to in your mind when you have a moment of quiet thought. I am sure that I’ve surpassed 100,000 words in that world – 200,000 wouldn’t surprise me. Later, I started taking my old fanfiction stories and turning them into stories with integrity and varied characters, and finally, only within the last two years, I started writing from scratch. Now I’ve started a handful of novels, finished one of them (NaNo), and I keep starting new ones instead of finishing the old ones. But it doesn’t matter. I’m not doing this to publish, or to make a living. I’m doing it because I have to. A cat has to chase mice, a dog has to chew bones. I have to write. So I do.
A little less than a year ago, I went into a job interview. In that interview, they asked me to tell them about my hobbies. Unsure of what to say, I threw out there that I wrote. She replied, “Oh, do you keep a blog?” “No,” I replied, “But maybe I should.” I didn’t get matched with that job. (This year I did, and I am starting there in May.)
Then, in August, TYFLMAYC was born. And you all know the rest.
I want to take a quick moment to thank my 1,000 followers!
Thank you for hitting the “Follow” button.
Thank you for reading.
And most importantly, thank you for letting me autograph your cat.
(Written for the Weekly Challenge)