I’ve always loved writing. One of my earliest memories is showing a story about the Tooth Fairy to my Year 2 teacher (Mrs Reid for any ex-Jericho pupils who have stumbled upon these ramblings) and her telling me to take it to the headmaster. Had I been naughty? Was it that bad? Apparently, it was good but I didn’t know why. It didn’t occur to me that anybody would enjoy reading my pieces of fiction. Because I only ever wrote for me. I alone was my audience. I didn’t feel the need to use ambitious adjectives or powerful punctuation to impress my reader. Because the reader was me and if I liked it, that was good enough. Further down the line, when my words were to be marked by some anonymous academic and they would decide which letter they would award my work, I still didn’t care. I would start each piece with enthusiasm and end it with pride and that was enough for me. Another of my favourite teachers (Mrs Routledge for Whitehaven School comrades) would lavish praise on me and would talk of Oxford or Cambridge to my dad at parents’ evenings, to which I said nothing. For me the written word is so much more important and I would much rather express myself on paper than out loud. Even now, when I talk, I see the words in my head first and imagine how they would look. And it was when the writing became more prescriptive and demanding that I stopped.
Life took a different turn. I instead immersed myself in foreign languages. I obviously have an innate love of language, no matter how it looks or sounds. This was probably a strange choice for someone who isn’t the best at her expressing herself aloud but this was a small price to pay for learning how to string sentences together in German or translating my thoughts into French. So for a long while, English was lost to me along with my dreams of becoming a journalist or writing my own novel.
So, as teenagers across the land waited nervously for their GCSE result this week, I remembered this as the day my official education in English stopped. I can’t deny that, as I saw friends walk into the classroom for their English A-Level lesson, whilst I continued past for my German instruction next door, I didn’t feel a pang of regret. Had I made the right decision? I know now that I did. Because I know that every small cell inside of me which adored writing would have withered and died through the dull dissection of classic texts and the churning out of endless essays analysing structure, purpose, language etc etc. I know this because after 4 years of doing the exact same thing in French at university, that love also dwindled and took over 20 years to rise from the ashes.
So why has my love of English writing been resurrected? My ramblings nowadays mainly involve Facebook statuses or sarcastic texts to friends. But I’ve noticed more and more, as I’ve added to my timeline, that I’ve been thinking carefully how to log a disastrous dog walk or a proud mother moment. I’m not writing to inform, but to entertain, enthral, enrapture. Those invisible creative juices are apparently flowing and I feel again that thrill from struggling to get the words down quick enough – my hand cannot keep up with my brain!
And I’ve been persuaded by friends that my writing should be ‘out there’. They love reading it, much to my shock (and delight) which again brings into question that subject of audience. Who will read this? I’ll force my husband and he’ll say it’s good so that I’ll make something nice for dinner. The kids won’t even been able to lift their heads up from some electronic device long enough to read the first sentence! But I will write again because I have fallen back in love with writing and it makes me happy.