A Writing Life Realized

During a recent memoir writing course, I realized how writing has been a theme throughout my life. At every stage and decade of my life writing has been a creative activity I have participated in.

In elementary school, I co-wrote a couple plays. My friends and I worked together to stage these stories. We did it all, from directing and acting, to finding props and costumes.

I wrote a short story for my church in my early teens.  On Sunday mornings, the Pastor had a children’s story time as part of the morning service. It was a story about the donkey who carried Christ on Palm Sunday.

At 20, I started writing a science fiction story based on the Star Wars characters. It was an early foray into fan fiction before I even knew there was such a thing as fan fiction. I sat and wrote on an old electric typewriter. I don’t believe I had any aspirations to have it published, it was fun to write, plain and simple. I don’t have that manuscript anymore, I threw it out at some point, thinking it was drivel. (Is that an audible gasp I hear?)  Looking back, it is interesting I never pursued science fiction as a genre in writing or reading. I guess it was more a result of getting caught up in the early Star Wars phenomenon.

I was a Christian Missionary in Mexico when my next creative inspiration struck. While listening to The Vigil by Kemper Crabb I got the idea for my historical novel set in Medieval Ireland. The year was 1986. The main character and concept came right away, but I didn’t do anything with it.

After leaving Mexico, I once again was involved with a local church. I wrote another short stage play and saw it performed at a Sunday evening service. This play sits in a file with all the hand-written notes from that production. Writing plays seems to have grown in tandem with my involvement in community theatre.  The theatre is another theme running through my life that began in elementary school. A whole other story that must wait for another time.

The wind that fanned my desire to write fiction came in 1992. I was living in Dublin, Ireland where the Irish novel found some needed inspiration. By the end of the 1990’s, a series of scenes started to bring the characters to life for me and I began writing them down. I also began gathering research materials. Articles and web printouts fill a file from those early research attempts. I have less and less wall space in my apartment as books for research have found their way to me. Research was one of the reasons for my move to London, England where I lived from June of 2000 until November of 2001. During that time, I spent five weeks on the west coast of Ireland where I wrote every day. I returned to Canada six chapters short of my first draft. Stalled by my lack of research skills I made the decision to break down that barrier. In 2013, I graduated from the University of Victoria with a degree in Medieval Studies.

Being stalled in my Irish novel did not prevent me from starting other stories. In every book and article, I read researching the papers I had to write at university, story ideas jumped out at me. Those ideas lie dormant in a file on my computer waiting for their time to grow. Writer’s block is not something I will have to worry about for years to come if ever.

It is all well and good to have ideas and even to start writing, but I wasn’t getting any closer to published. I decided last year to commit to finishing one. I chose the novel that was closest to completion, a contemporary thriller.

It has taken decades to get to this point. Better late than never.

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