My sister is trying to take over the world ( and ruin my life )
You never know when inspiration is going to strike, right? At least that’s what they say. I can spend weeks staring at a blank page, cursing, to then shove it away to the back of my mind. Sometimes I will be working on several stories at once while the first one lies dormant. There will be a “seed” of an idea, the beginning of something that I want to capture but I am yet to find the words so so far it remains a seed. Without that flow of inspiration, that’s all it will ever be.
There are plenty of stories- or seeds- locked up in my otherwise frighteningly empty mind that I haven’t committed to paper and some of which, I never will. That being said, there are stories that come easily- seeds that grow wildly and uncontrollably- into something I could never have envisioned.
I looked down at that drawing and I just saw it. We might not be able to predict when inspiration will strike but I don’t think we can attempt to explain it either. It was a drawing of a young girl, early teens, with wild blue metallic hair. Hey eyes were lilac and full of character. That’s all it took. Suddenly, she had a name, a story, as if she had always been there and had always existed.
Her name was Maggie.
The world might be clueless to my first ( and last) real novella and Maggie, it’s star. Equally, a blessing and a curse I’m sure. However, she’s not unknown to everyone reading this.
That drawing didn’t come from nowhere and she certainly didn’t originate from my artistic capabilities. My little sister who couldn’t have been more than 7 or 8 years old, drew her and from a couple of sketches, we created a world.
Maggie was my main character- my heroine. She was a dramatic sort, vocal and loving who found solace through writing. ( They say write what you know!) She was surrounded by a loud, colourful group of friends with even brighter hairstyles which was Charlie’s artistic trademark at the time. Together, they concocted spy-like missions that they would systematically record in a journal all in the aim of exposing Maggie’s evil younger sister- the beautiful, blonde and effortless evil mastermind Charlotte ( subtle) . I titled the story: “My sister is trying to take over the world ( and ruin my life)” and it soon became a passion project of ours.
Charlie would draw these lively characters and I would form a back story around them. We’d scroll through baby name websites, made family trees and built their personalities- their likes, dislikes, plans and dreams. Each with their own set of strengths and flaws so they grew into what felt like real people.
Even to this day it is a story that I look back on fondly. As unrefined as some of the story lines were, some of the writing still makes me laugh. The missions, themselves, weren’t always genius even if truth serum cereal is still a solid idea because what 12 year old doesn’t know how to make some? Although, as true as that might be, that’s not why I spent all that time creating those characters, writing and rewriting those stories over the years. I might have thought that I had the next bestseller or something but really those stories remain one of the fondest memories I have of my childhood.
Although I was unlikely to tell her to her face, I was in awe of her ability- even at that age- how she could make a character come alive. When I drew something, all I produced was flat, rigid scratches on a page but with her, the scratches became real. I could feel what her drawings were feeling- they seemed to have thoughts and feelings the way that you or I have.
It would take me screeds upon screeds of lines, paragraphs and pages to achieve that level of feeling and yet I was transported by her drawing in a few simple strokes.
Anyone can write in this world, anyone can draw. You don’t have to be terribly good to play Pictionary or write an email. Someone just has to teach you and then it’s up to you to pick up the pen. If that truly is the case, why aren’t we all Picassos and Shakespeares? The answer is simply because that although everyone can write or draw, not everyone can create.
I had no doubt even then that this beautiful, blonde and effortless girl that drew on walls and made our whole house her canvas would go on to do just that.She might be a nuisance sometimes, stubborn and opinionated and may even want to ruin my life from time to time but there is, was and never will be a doubt in my mind that she is going to take over the world.
In dedication to my witty, wild and wonderful sister. Happy 19th birthday. Thank you for growing up beside me all these years, writing stories with me and creating whole worlds from our Attic room. They say that inspiration is unpredictable but I have always found it with you.
I love you,
No one picture could capture a lifetime of memories with you so here’s your finer bits xoxo