A Lifelong Urge
I remember the day I wrote my first ever piece of fiction as though it were yesterday. I was around eight years old, I’d just finished watching a The Flintstones episode where the gang visits Count Dracula’s castle, and the Count himself becomes infatuated with Wilma and tries to woo her away from her oath of a husband, Fred*. Now, my love of the spook was nothing new to me by that stage of my life, but this episode stirred something in me, and for the first time that I can recall, I felt that overwhelming urge to write. Now, this was back in the 80’s and those Choose Your Own Adventure books were huge then, so I wrote my own vampire version of that. For hours I poured over my words, plot and accompanying illustrations and once I was happy, I presented the finished product to my mother and step-father. Their responses were what you’d expect from any well meaning parent, though not any over the top ‘My god you’re brilliant!’ praise either, and satisfied I had scratched my creative itch, I got back to my neglected barbie dolls, not giving writing a second thought. But the writing urge had been stirred in me that day.
And it would come and go over the years.
As a teenager, my diary was my trusty creative outlet and I remember sitting at school, just wanting to go home so I could write. All I wanted to do was pour my heart out to my A4 foolscap friend. Sometimes, that urge would be so overwhelming I would write during class. Song lyrics, poetry, how much I hated the girl who claimed I was a friend but treated me like crap, or whatever I needed to get out of my system to scratch that itch. Whatever I needed to get out, I wrote.
My next piece of fiction came to me around that time too.
I was still in High School , and we were sitting exams for our High School Certificate. It was the English exam, and the teacher mentions that we are required to write a fictional story, using the provided picture as a prompt. I remember looking at the supplied picture and thinking ‘Yep, I can do something with this,’ and off I went. I wrote my story, handed it in and forgot about it. That was until I was called to that English teachers desk a few months later as our results were handed out. Turns out, that story I wrote, along with my classmates, had been entered in a statewide literature competition.
‘By the way, your story came third,’ the teacher remarked flippantly, as she handed me my marked exam.
Third? That’s pretty good, right?
Well, my mind thought so, but as I was not what you’d call a model student, and certainly not a favourite, no fuss was made. I didn’t even make a fuss about this achievement and sadly I think it was forgotten about by the end of that week. I left school not long after, and for a while, my writing life staying behind with it.
But that urge was never far away.
In the years that followed, I left many a dead end job, had babies, got married and with all of life’s ups and downs, that urge was still in the background, and when it came to the surface, I scratched it by writing my thoughts, fears and gripes, along with the odd poem, in my ever present diary. But I didn't write any fiction during that time. That didn't happen again till many years later, my late thirties to be exact.
One New Years Eve, I had a friend over and we spent the night discussing what we really wanted to do with our lives. I finally divulged I wanted to write, the urge very much alive and well. I had briefly mentioned this the year before, when during lunch with another friend, I had mentioned a dream I had the night before that I thought would make a great story.
“Write it!”, she encouraged, “write it!”
So I did. But, after a few chapters, and the urge to get this story out of me gone, I stopped. It sill remains unfinished and unread to this day, but that moment opened up the flood gates and the thought that all I wanted to do was write was with me night and day. I just didn’t think I could.
I mean, you have to be qualified to write, don’t you? You have to have some kind of degree? Or in the very least, experience?
And while all of the above certainly helps, it’s not mandatory. All you need is that urge to write, to write what you know and love, and mine was growing by the day.
So, after I said the words I had been too scared to say to even myself, my friend was most supportive, just like the one before her, and at that moment I decided to go for it. The next day, I signed up for Medium, and wrote a brief post, and after much deliberating, hit publish. And guess what? The sky didn’t fall down, my phone didn’t ring off the hook with ‘You’re brilliant! You must work for us now!” offers, and thankfully, I was not ridiculed for putting myself out there, but something did happen that day — I had published something for people other than myself or family to read, and it felt good. Really good. Pretty soon I was hooked, and like many before me, wondered why has it taken me so long to do this? I wrote articles, listicles, advice, and blog posts about everything and anything. I made some great connections, and wonderfully supportive friends, via this platform, wrote for some great publications, and received a mixed bag of reviews on my work and to my surprise, was offered a very casual content writer job. Fiction was never far away though, and the more I focused on writing that, the more the other stuff took a back seat. Soon enough, fiction was all I wanted to write.
So I did.
I started writing fiction for some great publications on Medium, as well as submitting pieces to outside publications, had more rejections than I can count, as well as having had the odd acceptance, with this list slowly building. I have a story published in a fantastic anthology and two more stories accepted for seperate anthologies, and I plan to keep going. There’s only one thing that is missing as I type and it’s this — the urge.
My constant companion.
My urge to write, to get that story out of my head and onto paper is missing in action, and that is scary to me. There’s always something lurking away in my brain waiting to come out, but right now, it’s quiet as a church mouse. This is not new to me, but it is worrying seeing the writing roll I have been on for the past year and a half. I always had something to write, some urge, even if it has been lying in silent waiting for the right moment.
I know my urge to write will never leave me, my life experience with it is proof of this. Sometimes, it just goes away. Sometimes it’s with me for a while, months even, other times, it’s with me for a blip and then it’s gone.
I know the writers life is not an easy one. I will be crippled with self doubt, periods of writers block, moments of ‘that’s it — I quit’, stories that remain largely unread, ridiculed even, and countless rejections. But as long as that urge is there, that uncontrollable desire to get my story, my words on paper and out there for all to see, it is worth it.
Just like it did today.
*For the record, I would have picked the Count. Sure my life would have been short, but boy, what a ride it would have been ;)
© Belinda B