Finally, after quite a long time of scribbling down half-developed ideas, and giving up on projects, I have reached the conclusion of my first story for many years (writing “many years” makes me sound very old).
I have written quite a lot since I was about eight, but at that time I was very much just doing what you might call “fan fiction”; taking my favourite stories and characters, and simply adapting them and putting them into knew situations. Then I stopped for a while.
When I did come to start writing again after a two year hiatus, I was a little lost as to where to start. My quest for authenticity simply meant that I sat staring at a blank page, totally uninspired. Soon I realised that authenticity was not the key point.
Journalism has taught me that you can write the same story, but in quite different – sometimes innumerable – ways. I love the analogy Terry Pratchett used for the development of one’s writing: all of literature is like a great big soup; you take a great ladle-full of soup, and there is your first story. It is just a collection of what has been done before. Soon, though, you start throwing bits back into the soup; a carrot, a leek, a potato, and soon the soup is not what it was before.
That is writing. It is hard to develop a story – in its entirety – that is totally authentic. There will be inspiration, old tales, myths and legends, stories and ideas that will have entered your brain and you cannot help but use them. My latest (now completed) story is a short one, but one inspired by a song my grandparents taught me as a kid, and I hope some might recognise. If not, the story will hopefully still be as charming for you as for those who recognise the plot’s conclusion.
I have written it in long hand, and will begin typing and second-drafting the story today. I look forward to letting you read it.