I’ve always been a scribbler; I won a school poetry competition at eight years old (so far the only time I’ve won a literary prize) but I never considered myself a writer. I wrote poetry in my teens and imaginary song lyrics for my imaginary band but I always saw people who wrote books as some sort of magicians with mystical powers that someone like me obviously didn’t have. Writers were an elite; something that us ordinary mortals could aspire to but never be. It wasn’t until I became a mature student at the grand old age of thirty seven that my attitude changed.
In the first year of my history degree we had to do a second subject, which at the time pissed me off because there was nothing else I wanted to study. Then I noticed they did creative writing so I thought ‘What the hell, I’ll give that a try.’ It was strange being with other writers discussing our work, reading other people’s stuff and bitching about other people’s work. But for the first time I realised that writers were just ordinary people who wrote and I could be one too. More shockingly, I realised that I was, in fact, probably already a writer; I just hadn’t realised it.
I think that a massive part of being a writer is developing the right mind set. When I was a teenager I was totally evasive about my writing and would never have shown any of it to anyone but there is a process of self acceptance that you have to go through to become who you are. We all do it but it took me so long to say “I’m a writer.”