I grew up not far from the Wildfowl & Wetlands Trust in Slimbridge, Gloucestershire, and some of my earliest memories are of exploring this wonderful centre for science and conservation, feeding the birds with one hand, an ice cream melting in the other.
A few years later, just after I’d recovered from chickenpox, a teacher set a task to make a book. I was so excited. I took every opportunity to write at school, scribbling stories on card and painting poems which I hoped would be displayed on the classroom wall.
Now, I was going to be published.
Once my pages had been guillotined by the classroom assistant, I knew exactly how I’d fill them. I was going to write about a swan and duck, inspired by those I’d seen in Slimbridge, and it was going to be an epic adventure. At least that’s what I thought at the time. My swan and duck actually just went on a picnic and gobbled through all the things that were ‘rationed’ at home. Sweets, chocolate, cakes and way too much liquorice.
After the pages had been bound with staples and I’d painted a cover complete with a swan and duck on a sugar high, I was elated. I showed my published book with pride to anybody and everybody.
But, the best bit, I realised, had actually been the writing.
Nothing beats the joy of crafting stories especially as, back then, I didn’t need to write conflict or adversity into the narrative, I could just write whatever I felt like in whatever order it came. I wasn’t sure what I wanted to be when I grew up, I just knew it would somehow have to involve writing and unlimited sweets.
Many people will say those who are born to write are those who enjoy it, those who write at every opportunity. Others will say that it is those who have published a book or multiple ones. A few might say that you only know you were born to write if you’ve received literary acclaim and have trophies sitting on your bookshelf.
But that’s not true.
Writing isn’t always a joy and, although recognition is wonderful, that’s not what makes a writer. Writing can be full of doubt. It can be a struggle. There may be days when you can’t face writing, when you shove ideas or manuscripts in a draw and think you’ll never touch them again.
But if you’re born to write, one thing’s certain.
Writing always calls you back. Eventually.
One day, you want to write again. You have to write. Words, characters or threads of an idea creep into your mind. You have to get them down.
So don’t worry if doubt or despair cloud the joy of writing. Give your craft space, if you need to, then wait for it to whisper to you, to call you back to the page.
You are born to write.
Enjoy the highs. Ride out the lows. Above all, keep going!