Origin story


The truth is I started writing by accident. My mother was a teacher, yes, but other than that little detail there was little in my upbringing to suggest I ought to make words my home. Not the typical writer's nuclear family, i.e., two parent household, educator and artisan, and shelves of hoary, dusty book spines marking every room.

My mother was a single parent managing to scratch and scrape a living and pay the bills and put food in the mouths of me plus four other siblings. Bedtime stories and the perusal of English language classics - Bronté, Eyre, Dickens or whoever - wasn't really an option for an inner-city working class immigrant trying to settle in a new country, a new culture and language, all without the sundry comforts of friends and family for support, and all whilst managing, somehow, to study toward a teaching qualification.

And so as a boy I loved sports - football, athletics, the kind of play that was tangible and physical - and I was very good at them. I felt no need for exploring realities beyond the one available to my five senses. I was having fun in the real world, the here and now.

And so when I did, at last, start to develop an appetite for reading and a desire to write, it was, in the truest sense, a discovery, one rendered by a newfound and, in my opinion, necessary thirst to escape.

Work was pressured. There were family problems. There was a lot of stress. I needed some relief and writing, for me, somehow became that valve of respite, a way to let off steam.

And so since then this has been my belief; that creativity, at its core, isn't a choice. It's a compulsion, an instinct, and one that everyone possesses.

I'll defer to the words of novelist and memoirist, Dani Shapiro, speaking about her own journey toward writing, to elaborate further.

'Life was elsewhere - I was sure of it - and writing was what took me there. In my notebooks, I escaped... I tried to make sense of myself. I had no intention of becoming a writer. I didn't know that becoming a writer was possible. Still, writing was what saved me. It presented me with a window into the infinite. It allowed me to create order out of chaos.'

And I suppose, in my way, I've been creating ever since.