Why The Dickens Did I Choose Writing?

by LimebirdCat

Writing…

Why writing? I mean, out of all the things I could have found myself growing an affinity for, why did I choose that?

It’s a rather knotty tangle of reasoning if you try to unpick the long-ago created thought processes that brought you from where you were to now. I suppose it is jolly good fun to look back through and remember the moments that brought you to the conclusion that writing was your soul’s nourishment.

Yes, yes, that does sound very flowery and pretty doesn’t it? I do like to grab hold of a lot of charming words and chuck them unceremoniously into the mix, don’t I? That is probably what got me started on the path to writing.

It took me a long time to learn to read at school. My brother received vastly more help and encouragement at home than I did, so I struggled along on my own as a child. This made reading and writing a frustrating and arduous chore more than anything else and I longed to be able to have the same fluency and ease most of the kids in my class had.

Our learning material was a set of books about a royal family and their many pointless misadventures. The dog losing its ball, the king losing his cloak and other merry japes. It is rather easy to see how this uninspiring tosh made my struggle to read even more cumbersome.

My love of reading is not the same as my love of writing as a consequence, I must say. I read slowly and it takes me a long time to get to the end of anything. Writing however, is a very different story.

Expressive to a fault, perhaps not now in my latter years, I have always been rather open and a tad eccentric. This has made me an easy target for bullies in my youth and some pretty god-awful boyfriends in my teens. Wearing my feelings and therefore my weaknesses on my sleeve was something I did rather readily and one of the outlets for this was writing.

Yes, I’ve done acting, even did half of my degree in it. That was fun and quite remarkable at times, but not the be-all and end-all. It didn’t quite suit the things I needed to channel to expressive myself adequately. I’ve drawn and painted – something I get some relaxation out of these days, but little more. I am far from good, let alone great. Or competent.

I’m no singer, dancer or, well, anything else and you know what? Despite being rather shockingly untalented at many forms of art, the only one that I have ever been bothered about is writing. I love writing. I can see the mix and jumble of the contents of my head there, right there on the page.

What a wonderful thing that is.

I began with poetry and diary keeping prior to the age of 10.

My first diary has a few interesting entries about being in the Brownies, being in a rather terrible car crash when I was 11 and then the rest of the red shiny volume is taken up with a fan-fic about the X-Files.

David Duchovny? I was going to marry him when I grew up. I was certain of it. Whenever I see old friends from high school, they often remember me most for my obsession to DD. Looking back now it’s a tad cringe worthy, looking at him now I can’t understand what all the fuss was about.

Ah, but high school (you start high school at age 11-16 in the UK) brought with it a lot of angst and growing pains, all recorded through poetry and diary entries. I love reading through the clumsily written text or stanza’s and rolling my eyes at the rhyme schemes or subject matter. I was a kid and I wrote like a kid. It’s like my childhood and teens bottled, right there on the page for all eternity. It shines brightly like a start and far more personal and beautiful than a photograph. I can’t recapture that now. It was written when my mind was still forming and I love it.

If I submitted it to a publisher, they’d turn their nose up at it. Twee, contrite and childish it may appear, but it’s a milestone, it’s a line in the sand, it’s a landmark. It says ‘this is who I was then’. For that, my early writings are completely stunning and irreplaceable.

I’ve been compiling all of my poetry together recently into a collection for publication and I must say, it has been very interesting. Everything is going in there from the squirmy childhood stuff to the angry and raw rants of my early twenties. Wonderful.

Just having something in my heart and/or soul and needing to get it out inspired me to write and keep doing so. Pouring out onto the page before my eyes was my life and it was so beautiful and perfect. It was what I needed and still do to this day.

Anyone who has read my ‘about’ page on my blog will know that in 2007 I lost my beautiful twin daughters. That was the bit where I gave up writing, especially poetry which I have not returned to since their passing. I wrote two poems at the time of their deaths and I haven’t written another since. My reasoning there was, there was simply nothing more remarkable I could write about in life than about them. Nothing mattered more if you will.

However, a couple of years after I lost them, I decided I needed to write again. I needed to express the things that were living inside my head. I don’t care if they get read or published – I just wanted to get it out.

Writing for me is not essentially about entertaining, educating or immortality. Writing for me is therapy. It is a realisation that I have the gift of life that my two beautiful daughters would have done anything for and were denied. I should therefore not ignore the fact that I was given this gift too and do something with it. I need to make them, and their little sister, very proud of their Mummy.

Those are my reasons to write.

What do I write?

Oh anything. Jolly good fun isn’t it? Having a darn good scribble about whatever you fancy. Very rewarding and satisfying. No-one needs to read it, it’s like your own secret garden – a pretty in joke between you and yourself.

One form of writing I do enjoy a lot is the magical realms of fan-ficcery. Now come on, I know that fan-fics get an enormous about of stick for being ‘unimaginative’. I find that a questionable opinion to have considering that would make people who write for series’ fan-ficcers too. No, no. Fan fiction is quite simply marvellous and I enjoy it immensely. It’s like being a kid with a doll and moving its arms about and doing the voice for it. You didn’t create the doll, you didn’t give it a name or a back-story, but whilst it’s in your imagination, you have every right to give it your own treatment.

Novels I am a big fan of I have fan-ficced or read other people’s. The best one’s I have found are for The Phantom of the Opera. I’ve never been a fan at all of Harry Potter (forsooth! What treachery is this!? Surely EVERYONE is a Potter fan!) and I am aware that there are zillions of fics for those books, and of course Twilight. I haven’t read any of those, but I am sure they are all just as ace.

Fan-fiction is also a great way of getting started in writing. Some of the people I mentor are fan-fic writers. Something has just sparked their imagination and so they have run with it. Why not? I think it is a wonderful genre.

The groundwork is already there, the characters named and developed – you just have to continue, or perhaps even rewrite their story. It just helps you write if you’re struggling when you start off sometimes. I know I found it wonderful help and vastly enjoyable!

I have of course, started on my own original prose which is slowly coming along. I recently published a short story on my blog, which my husband read and said it made him so sad, it played on his mind for days. I think that’s a sort of compliment. Surely?

I was pleased with how that went, but, as you may know from me by now, I have no audience in mind nor care about publication. I mean, sometimes it is nice and I do send bits and pieces off for publication. It won’t rob me of sleep though if I don’t get a book deal or become a super-duper-international-best-seller. As I have said earlier, I write for me as a bit of fun and therapy. No other reason really.

My biggest project, after the novel is finished, is my first and possibly only non-fiction work. I am absolutely scared witless about this one, hence I’m putting it off by writing a novel first.

Lucy’s Diary.

Lucy’s Diary is literally what it sounds like – a diary about Lucy, my eldest daughter. When she was born, I was told to keep a diary by the neonatal team to record everything I was going through at the time. It was rather awful but the diary provided some solace for me. The small dark blue book contains the month-long life of my beautiful and perfect baby daughter. It is emotional, devastating and remarkable. Hence I am terrified of writing it.

It will also be the only thing I’ll write for an audience. I want to write it for publication so that other families going through the same as my husband and I can see that they are not alone. I want it to educate those who are luckily unaware about what goes on when you lose a child so that it promotes better understanding, removal of taboos and encourages research. The profits from it will be donated equally to the neonatal unit that looked after my daughter and the charity SANDS.

Wow.

That’s my writing journey, in a nutshell (or under 2 thousand words, which is good for me! Tame in fact!) and I know I haven’t delved into everything. Perhaps you will feel better acquainted with LimebirdCat after reading this and feel inspired to leap onto your computer or throw open your note-book in a devil-may-care fashion. Perhaps you are struggling to keep reading this as it became boring after the first three lines. I dunno.

Either way, it’s my writing journey and I felt it rude of me not to share it with you dear readers.

P.S. WordPress picked up the word ‘fan-fic’ in the spell check and suggested ‘fanatic’. Methinks it might be right….!

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13 Comments to “Why The Dickens Did I Choose Writing?”

  1. Cat, I love the raw honesty of this post and I really enjoyed learning more about your writing journey. I was completely immersed in it from start to finish, I’m so glad that you didn’t give up writing for good.

    The idea of Lucy’s Diary sounds like a wonderful tribute to your beautiful girls and we will be behind you every step of the way, should you wish you continue with publishing.

    B x x

  2. Wow, I’m literally lost for words after reading this. How beautiful, tragic, and heart warming all at once. Keep going on your journey!

  3. A wonderful post.

    Totally agree with Beth, you may be terrified of writing Lucy’s Diary, but most great ideas are at least a little bit terrifying.

    As to why I’m a writer… I went for many years without writing anything. It was poetry that brought me back to the page. My partner at the time was a member of a poetry site and I thought to myself “I can do as well as half of the people here” (ever humble, me). So, I had a go and, guess what, I was right! 😉 The poetry got me writing, and the habit stuck.

    The feeling when my first poetry collection arrived in the post and the smell of the book… If you could inject that, everyone would be hooked! As it is, rather than using methadone to treat my addiction, I write. It’s much more fun and definitely more productive!

    Then there was NaNoWriMo 2010, that was when I really began writing every day and I tried to stick with it (I really did!). Unfortunately my work dragged me away a bit, but I did still manage to average 641 words a day that first crazy year.

    Now I don’t set myself word count targets, I have moved on to story targets, poem targets, novel targets; and so, I can guarantee, by the end of this year, my second and third book will be available.

    So: I wrote to prove that I could, now I write because I can’t imagine not writing!

  4. Thank you very much Beth and I am so pleased that you enjoyed my post! It will be bloody hard to write up Lucy’s diary and edit it all. It was a traumatic thing at the time and I find it hard to even pick the volume up, let alone type it up! Thanks for the offer of support from you and the rest of the gang, shall definitely need it 🙂

    Spotted at least two typo’s in my post – I was tired when I proof read it (that’s my excuse and I’m sticking with it!), so apologies one and all!

    C x

  5. Lovely post. It was great hearing your journey. And the sadness you’ve dealt with is inspiring. I hope you do write down your daughter’s story. And most of all I hope you carry on writing. Good luck Cat!

  6. Cat, This post is a clear, concise, and powerful piece of non-fiction writing in itself. When your heart is ready to write Lucy’s Diary, you need not worry at all about the quality of your writing. As for me, I wrote well in high school, and in college, but I stopped for a long while after that. Sometime during those twenty years or so, I decided that what I really wanted was to be an author who had already written that first book — no self-discipline at all. Then, in 1989, I took on the duties of pastor at a couple of small churches, and writing came back to me in the form of sermons, which were also really good opportunities for me to nurture my drama queen self. After that, I didn’t write until I started my blog, last October. I decided that I was going to write, and now I can hardly stop. My writing was awful at first, but has improved as I have learned to write in my own voice, and not some other’s. Please stop by http://diabeticredemption.com, if you’d like. I will be anxiously awaiting the publishing of Lucy’s Diary, which I’m convinced will be a powerful work that will have the affect you hope for with other families, as well as the rest of us. Thanks so much for sharing your story!

  7. I’ve never lost a child–I can’t even imagine the pain. But I do understand the pain causing you to quit writing. I went through that after I lost my mother, then my brother to suicide. Writing is not supposed to be therapy we are told. But it is for me. I am able to create a world to put the hurt, anger, grief, and remembrances in and weave them into something…better. Some things I write are for others to see, other pieces are for my eyes only. The thing is, the writing is a perfect medium to express your thoughts and feelings. What a strong piece this article is and I imagine it was difficult to write because of the emotion involved. But how brave you are! Stronger than you know! By sharing your story, you help others–like me–be brave too.

  8. One might also ask “Why the Limebirdcat” did Dickens choose writing?

  9. Very emotional, brave post, Cat. You have been through what I consider the most traumatic of human tragedies, and look at how you turned things around. Very easily you could have kept slipping, kept spinning down the dark hole. I’m so glad, and I’m sure others would echo me, that you went back to your writing.

    Lucy’s Diary sounds like it would be a touching, delicate portrayal of a very dark time. It may remain only personal and private, or you may venture to have it published. Only time will tell.

    Thanks for sharing this, Cat.

  10. The word ‘raw’ came to mind when I was reading what you wrote here, and then I saw that Beth used that word too in her comment! I was going to say that I loved the raw outpouring; it was like – this is me, take me or leave me. I think we’ll all take you 😉

  11. What a beautiful and expressive post Cat. I cannot imagine the pain of losing your daughters. I hope that one day you will write the book, so that we can get to know them too.

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