When I was a little kid, people loved to ask, “So what are you going to be when you grow up?” Some kids answered fireman, astronaut, ballerina or superman. I said writer. Now maybe they were trying to be helpful, but around 90% of people told me, “You’ll never make money from that.” “It’s not a real job.” “Don’t you know most writers are starving?”
This confused me. It’s not like I wanted to be superman. Why did the kids who said they wanted to be superman get a fond smile, a pat on the head, and “How nice.” It didn’t make sense. I knew he wasn’t real.
But writers obviously were. I’d read their books, visited their worlds, had my imagination filled with wondrous events and magical happenings. So how could that be impossible when no one ever said becoming superman was?
But I learned to play their game and say ‘teacher’ whenever anyone asked. And they’d nod and smile and the conversation would be over without the lecture. To me being a teacher was second choice. Nothing like being a writer. A writer’s who I am, not what I do. And I kept writing. And reading. And telling stories.
When my sister couldn’t sleep at night, she’d crawl into my bed and I’d make up stories for her until she fell sleep. In every spare moment I read and discovered how writers formed sentences, created worlds and drew the reader in so they couldn’t put the book down. I also read in the not so spare moments, learning to walk and read at the same time, to do my chores while I read.
And I wrote. During class. When I was supposed to being doing homework, and when I was supposed to be asleep. Mum wouldn’t let me keep my light on really late at night when everyone else was in bed, so I saved my pocket money and bought a torch. And under the blankets, late at night, I read and wrote rather than lay awake half the night creating worlds and characters in my mind.