Thursday, December 7, 2017

What I Would Change by Anita Davison

One thing I would change which might have altered how things went in my life, is that I would have listened to those voices of my childhood that said I could, and should write. It wasn't a crowd of enthusiastic teachers and mentors, but the one or two spontaneous remarks I could sense were genuine. [My schoolteachers barely knew I existed – when I achieved top marks in an English Language exam, my teacher said, ‘Well that was a surprise’]

I should have asked those early voices why they thought so, or even how I could go about becoming a writer –  but I was brought up in an atmosphere of blending in, never drawing attention to yourself and where the words ‘not for the likes of us.’ still ring down the years.

It might sound like a cop out to say, ‘no one showed me how to do it’ but that’s how it was to feel something is achievable for others but not for me. I didn’t have much of a sense of self-worth, so I didn’t reach for the stars, only the nearest thing. The thought of ‘what if’ was always there, but I had no idea how to turn a spark of ambition that never quite grew into a flame, into a reality.

This was, of course, in the pre-internet days when libraries were sanctums of yellow-paged hardbacks and indexed file cards guarded by stern matrons who believed silence must be maintained at all costs, especially against questions from schoolgirls – so where to start? No, I didn't live in medieval times but compared to today it might seem like it.

So I floundered, toyed, and touched the surface ever so lightly, but never jumped in.

I began writing late and purely to please myself and slowly learned during a process of criticism, editing and reading, that writing is a craft which begins with some talent, but can be acquired and needs to be honed by practice, reading, editing and more practice.

The more I write, the more I realise there is so much more I don’t know about writing – or even what good writing actually is. It's  also not how technically perfect you can turn out a piece of prose; it’s about how you communicate feelings and experiences in a unique voice with which readers can connect.

Photographs of youthful, bright eyed young women bringing out chart-topping novels are everywhere, and although thrilled for them – and I truly am - I cannot help a stir of envy of the many years they have ahead of them to write, inspire and be inspired as their careers and reputations grow.

Or maybe it was meant to take this long to find out these things, that I’m simply a [very] late developer? In which case – regret is pointless.

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  1. Thoughtful, insightful post. Your talent is obvious now.

  2. Well done and thoughtful. We see a little of who you are, even as you stay upstairs in a quiet corner, writing.

  3. You are so right, regret is pointless, but it's the end product that counts and you should be very proud of what you have achieved.