Currently Air New Zealand is transporting me home after my long overdue holiday. Being the roleplaying queen I am - I am pretending to be a famous writer. I am of course drinking champagne (only because it is tradition and I am ... cough... famous) and have an air of worldly sophistication and fabulous glamour about me. Soon enough the “pretend-not a care-in the air” me, will be bought back down to earth and reality. But while here in the sky over the BEAUTIFUL Pacific? I’m going to be a famous writer, and write my latest offering to the world... something I like to call, An Epic Story.
When I was a smaller me I wanted to be a writer soooooo bad. I was convinced this was going to be the path of my life. Even though most of my youth I knew I wanted to be a mechanic and later on a porn star, I knew writing was my ultimate. If you asked today what is your dream job it would be writer. My childhood years growing up I was smitten by AA Milne, Margaret Mahy, Joy Cowley, Judy Blume, Roald Dahl, Paul Jennings and on occasion, because my younger brother would get them from the library, RL Stine- though horror was never my thing, they were easy to read and digest - I was a speed reader. Surprised?
Regardless of the genre, I believed, through no holier-than-thou philosophy, I could write just as well as these, maybe not today but definitely one day, what I would call, household names of authors. I felt my wicked imagination and dedication would catapult me there. Where? Oh you know. To super stardom in the writing world. When? In time. It felt so fitting. Like I was just being held in a waiting room called life until it was my time to shine. No matter how much of a go getter I was, often I felt like I was having to wait my turn.
I recall sitting alone and writing by the river behind my folks farm house on the coast, (that’s the west coast down south, Buller District for those curious) many times. This particular day, I had a baseball cap on backwards, (I was a die hard sporty tomboy) a spiral notebook and an HB pencil I kept sharpening. I recall wearing slouch socks too because one would not slouch properly so I just pulled them up and let the magic of my well developed calf muscles hold them both up close to my knees. Some ducks went past me. I remember this clearly. Due to a writing technique I (believed at the time I invented but it could be more a common concept than I figured) if I am not inspired before I write, I observe my surroundings and then just start writing. It’s automatic. So this poem I started writing had the word ducks. I wondered what ryhmes with ‘ducks’ and I laughed immaturely as I knew nothing did but THAT word. You know the one? So I reordered the words on that particular line so ducks was not last word in the row. I can definitely see a pun about having all my ducks in a row here. Can you? Who knew reading this would turn out to be a fun game?
Right so I recall ducks. When I recall something so effortlessly, it’s due to the fact I seem to remember how it made me feel. What senses it invoked or teased, in that moment. Be it an emotion, calm, content, an aroma, a visual, a sound.... I recall laughing about the word ducks and I recall the temperature, it was warm. But not so sunny yet that I needed to swing my baseball cap back to the front, where dad often said it “was intended to be, not the way I had it like I was uncouth” (for years I asked what uncouth meant, he always said “when you aren’t being very couth” ... inward groan) anyway. I say anyway a lot.
But anyway, I still remember the heat on my face from the morning sun. Just as the grass was flattening under the shape of my bum, and the grass rash I used to get behind my knees started to surface, (TMI?) I stared at my paper and noticed the white of my paper getting whiter, akin to a neon white, glaring back at me. The words from my pencil almost disappeared into the glare of the paper. I blinked, fascinated I could literally blink away my words then watch them reappear as my eyes adjusted. My older sister and a neighbour, whom together at that age were not all that friendly to me, were meandering past and spied me. Damn it. They came over as I knew they would, casting a shadow literally, and negatively over me. My paper turned grey in their shadows as I looked down at it to avoid their mocking gaze. Inwardly I thought “here we go” and right on cue both guffawed at me sitting there in the school holidays with a pen and paper.
“What ARE you doing” they practically snort laughed.
“Writing a poem” I said, devoid of any reaction I feel they sought.
“Why?!” They asked incredulously, and in unison.
“Oh, because I want to. I really want to publish a book one day”
This had them look at me then at each other then in hysterics sauntering off clutching each other’s arm, giving me the look all older siblings at some point give their younger siblings. Something that above all cast one word at you. In my era it was. “Moron” (it may have been dork but when we were younger, that word was frowned upon in our house, moron was the same era, seemed to be the less of two evils and socially acceptable if the behaviour was in fact moronic)
It’s okay. I built a bridge years ago. Water off a ducks back? Moron it is. So I sat there and continued to write. Like many times in my life, I have often thought the naysayers “just don’t understand” (for the record I still do not think the naysayers understand) but I never wanted to live for them. People say they don’t care what other people think of them... But they do. Well. They don’t care what dickheads think of them. Why would ye? But people? They probably do. Anyway. (There goes that word again)
At a bit of an older part of my life I won an award at end of year school prize giving. I was expecting an award all year for gymnastics- I was the only one who would be winning it by a country mile... but my “best friend” at the time manoeuvred under me when landing in a backward flip during practice, causing me to propel my body back wards in mid air to keep from landing on her. I landed on my tail bone on the gym floor. I couldn’t do even the beginning stance of a handstand so had to sit out the competition a week later. I was dejected. The girl who won couldn’t even do a round off or the splits. The girl was my best friend. Oh come on?!
To this day I don’t know if the prize I did win was manufactured just for me, out of sympathy re the gymnastics, but I did walk (hobble) away with the prestigious award of Most Promising Student. (This is before my bad girl years obviously) and part of my prize was $150.00 Whitcoulls voucher. Instinctively knowing where this money would go, I had my heart set on an electric typewriter. I had seen them advertised in a mail out pamphlet for $249.00 but as it was end of the year, Magically - that time of year in the mid 90s - a new pamphlet came round and they were now on special for $199.00
I didn’t have $199. I had $150.
(And $4 in coins left over from a prior babysitting gig) For what I make up in words I could do with a make over in my maths. But Ma and Pa said “we will help you with the rest” - they knew how my passion for writing was the first thing (apart from running) I had become absolutely transfixed with. They believed I had a talent. It ran in my veins. As much as running. It also kept me quiet for hours on end and out of the way. Ha. I only just clicked to that while writing this paragraph.
Financially, allocating any money was no easy task for them. It would have to come from somewhere else, whether by making do, or going without in other areas. I’m from the steadfast background where I remember my Ma would budget even for a stamp to send her mom a letter in the uk every week. I used to watch her doing this budgeting business at ballet recital during breaks, and be mesmerised by how detailed it was. (And how she NEVER lost that beautiful Parker pen... I was forever losing my pens... fortunately I inherited both my folks special writing pens when they both passed a few years back, I even wrote my mom eulogy in her pen, and to this day keep them on my writing desk at home. Just in case)
Where were we. So yes - getting my electric typewriter was a huge deal and I knew just how lucky I was to be helped in its purchase. I was even afforded some A4 paper. And as anyone who has owned a typewriter will know, you gotta have ze paper!! It’s not like you can save it in a file for another day like on a computer.
One thing I recall about the typewriter was you didn’t want to make mistakes. Sure the white out correcting tape was fun for the first few errors made on purpose initially (holy smokes! It actually works!) but anything over and above the occasional shit I meant to type an a not an s, would use the tape up way too fsat (whoopsie?)
Yeah nah, I did that on purpose because I am hilarious.
Sure my editing can leave a lot to be desired at times but that’s true for every writer. We don’t always see the little “whoopsies” as we were the writer. Ironically I see typos in others writing at times and bite my lip wondering if I should let them know, it’s case by case if I do - if it’s a major oversight I would EXPECT someone to let me know also - in fact I think it’s rude if you don’t 😝 I promise I will be grateful.
That said. Eventually I ran away from home and I went down a different road. I carried a notebook with me EVERYWHERE. I used to smoke a J with the other kids on the street, and they would stand around ‘plainin about the pigs’ (here I wish to point out I have never once in my life called or thought of the Police as pigs) and I would be writing furiously - I must get ALL THIS DOWN. I’d even hold my black nail polished hand up, (don’t talk to me!) My associates on the streets understood so well to the point if someone went up to talk to me they would tell them “leave her alone, she’s writing”
Those years fell behind me. As all years inevitably do. The road less travelled in some respects but frequently travelled in others. Then a few short years later, I published a book of poetry at the age of 20, and then several erotica books. Some further about escorting. I have completed a few courses in journalism and creative writing, but my heart lays firmly with creative writing. Whether it be adult fiction, my thoughts on life, poetry, children’s stories or simply decorated stories from my past.
When I published my book of poetry I sent a copy to my older sister who was in England. No note ~ nothing. Just a scribble on the back of the parcel saying it was just a little something from me and also, not in a whiny way at all of “I told you so” but I did use the words, “I told you I would do it, hope you are well and happy, all my love (real nick name inserted)”
(What? It’s better than writing “to the non believer” no?)
When I sent that it away to her, I didn’t even know if she would recall that day all those years before by the river behind the farm, but she got a message back to NZ for me that she was very proud. Of me! Last time she was proud of me was when I won races.
To this day I feel I am in a waiting room. Waiting to be discovered. Waiting for a magical marketing company to say, hang on, you actually have something unique here.... the way you can just keep readers interested down to the last line... grin grin) I’m just waiting for my star to shine a bit brighter. But for now I shall rest easy knowing, many pieces of my writing have helped more people than I will ever know. And that to me is the true claim to fame. The one where I can sit back and know, I will never be able to count the actual number of people who I have inadvertently and intentionally helped. Or made laugh. Or perhaps reminded. Dreams can come true. The darkest days can be woken up from. And hopefully, if you wear your baseball cap “just right”, if you can indignantly stare your sister in the face and say “no this is what I am doing” while the world laughs at you, if you can find the investors and the believers in you, in my case at the time my folks, then later the street kids and the glaring sun across the page... later at times just me, you may very well, make the waiting room, your fascinating class room, instead, it’s called life.
Anyway. Ahem. The plane is landing now so I better shimmy off the pretend famous writer vibe and get ready to strut through customs. Reality is calling my name.
Thanks for reading xx