My daughter, Liberty, is an aspiring author. Her current work in progress is a teen Sci-Fi novel. Although it is not a genre I would choose, I am thoroughly enjoying reading each chapter as it is written and I am now at a point where I am hungry for the next! She has a lovely writing style and a very clear vision about character, plot and structure. I am absolutely sure that one day her published books will be gracing bookshelves alongside JK Rowling, Stephanie Meyer and the likes.
Nearly twenty years ago, I attended adult classes in Creative Writing. As much as I loved being a stay at home mum, I liked that it got me out of the house one evening a week and away from what was an unfulfilling marriage. I chose creative writing only because the class was at a convenient time and location and a preferred option over Conversational French.
The course did present me with something of a challenge. At school I was always more inclined towards science than the arts. I would find solving a maths problem far more enjoyable than writing an essay. Here I was with a bunch of people who all thought they had the next bestseller waiting to burst forth from their eager writing implements, all just wanting to be nudged in a direction they had already decided upon. I came to the class without any expectations and certainly had no idea for a book of any description. I focussed on short stories which I used mostly as a vehicle to flirt with the teacher. It never felt like serious writing, it was playing, having fun.
Encouraged by my teacher, I did submit one of my flirtatious works to a new women's magazine who were looking for erotic fiction. I received a very positive response from Isabel Kaprowski, the launch editor, who said that she liked my writing style but needed something longer and with more plot line and if I were to submit such a thing she would be very interested.
I don't know what it was that stopped me. Maybe it was because my unhappy marriage eroded what little confidence I had or maybe it was because I never really felt like a 'writer', an impostor in that class of authorial wannabes. Whatever the reason, I never followed up my invitation to submit a longer story despite writing a couple that fit the remit. Had I done so and achieved any sort of success my life could have taken a very different path. If I had chosen Conversational French over Creative Writing in the first instance, I might never have written a word but enjoyed more holidays abroad. Life is so full of crossroads and choices it doesn't really pay to start considering the 'what ifs'.
I didn't do much else in the way of writing after that apart from some academic essays for a Foundation Degree Course in Teaching and Learning that I did a few years ago. The course itself didn't excite me much but I found that I did love the essay writing - the satisfaction of placing the final full stop. The desire to commit words to paper (real or electronic) was in part what lead me to blogging.
I have a niece who this year has started a University course in English Literature. She also like to write. The majority of what she writes seems to fall under the category of FanFiction which my daughters have dabbled in but I find mostly annoying (call me boring but I prefer to see characters handled by their original creators). The FanFic sites on the internet do, however, provide an audience - a readership - and ultimately the aim for the written word is that it be read (a truth that eluded me when I failed to submit my stories for publication). When I was writing, the release of Windows 98 and the internet explosion was still over half a decade away.
I asked my niece if she had any original works for me to read and she sent me a link to a story that she had entered for a writing competition. I know she has a lot of devoted followers of her Fan fiction who are full of praise for her but I am not the sort of person that gives praise lightly. I look for the good in things but I'm not afraid to give my honest opinion. My niece is ambitious, she has a good command of the language and some lovely ideas but I felt that her story, which dealt with a sexual encounter between two women, suffered a bit from a lack of worldly wisdom and maturity and the ideas were never explored quite enough to give you any real insight into the characters. I am hoping that she takes my criticism as positive and comes back with a new story to blow me away.
It was reading this story that made me think about my own dusty manuscripts, and filled with a sense of affection for my youthful incarnation, decided to dig them out. I was only able to lay my hands on the original erotic story I had sent to the women's magazine along with the response. Yellowed, typewritten paper and rusty staples held a little piece of my personal history and connected me to it.
Owing to the fact that my two year old is a little poorly and consequently unusually demanding, it has taken me practically the whole day to write this blog entry. This does not bode well for any fantasies I might have of resurrecting my fiction writing, erotic or otherwise. But you never know....