What writing means to me


It’s funny how agitated I get if I don’t write for a while.

It’s a form of expression that is like no other and feels so satisfying to do. To me at least, and all the other fellow writers out there.

I have always been adept at the humanities side of things. I’ll never forget, beaming at a school report that said ‘Layla reads like a 13 year old.’ I was 9 at the time and learned to read very early. We had a reading session in the afternoon and I can remember it clear as day. The warm sun baking our little classroom, the cream coloured clock ticking above the teacher’s head. My favourite teacher, Mrs Shepherd- she taught me how to tell the time as I was always afraid of numbers – still am. She was warm and encouraging and reminded me a lot of Mary Poppins. I also loved art and sometimes she would start a sentence with ‘I want you to paint a picture’ and I would get very excited, and then she would say ‘with words’ and I would be deflated for a second before doing just that. I remember writing a poem when I was 8 years old, included was the line ‘the plants were frozen like statues’ and she just adored that line and I still do to this day.

I didn’t enjoy secondary school that much, but I thoroughly loved primary school. I think I was lucky – all my interests were supported by the teachers – I did gymnastics and writing and drama classes. Because it was free – I could go. When we moved and I went to secondary school somewhere completely different, without any of my school friends, or that support system, a lot fell by the wayside. My parents weren’t ones to indulge our passions, and most of that ‘extra curricular’ stuff had to be paid for. No more classes. I do often wonder* (resentfully) if I could have achieved more had there been more parental encouragement.

*Have no doubt.

We moved to the brown, arid lump of land in 1990. I had hoped when we visited this vast expanse of nothing, that that was all it was – a visit. I couldn’t wait to get back to our lovely warm brick house, in a typical English cul de sac, with cotswold brick , fragrant pine cones, and boston greens. I remember one year waking up, looking out the window and seeing that everything was covered in a thick icing of snow. It would be a white Christmas after all. I crept downstairs  in my pjs, to watch early cartoons with my brother. For presents  I got the Jolly Postman and my brother got Optimus Prime I think. It was just wonderful. For 5 minutes we had a happy time. One with my beloved grandparents just round the corner, apple pie browning in the oven – I just love the smell of my Gran’s kitchen to this day. It was just one small piece of a normal and pleasant time –  one that sadly my younger brother and sister were never to know (they hadn’t arrived yet and by the time they did things weren’t great between my parents.)

We relocated 20 miles away, but at that age it may as well have been mars. There wasn’t the internet and social media to keep in touch with your friends. When we left, my classroom did a very unprecedented thing of writing me a long letter, with a bit from every child on it. People moved away all the time and we never did this. Even at 9 I was so touched. I remember reading the letter and crying quietly in my old bedroom. I wish I still had it. As if a metaphor for the years to come, my baby brother cried all night that first night. We each took turns holding him and trying to calm him, he was frozen and miserable (we didn’t have heating) and it was as if he could sense the change in the air. And not a good one. I will never forget his sad, trembling face with big pools of tears running over his cheeks.

Early on, I used to write stories for my younger siblings. They were the best audiences and I loved creating for them.

A famous thing (between me and my sister, when we reminisce about it now) was when I would come up with interesting stories off the cuff to tell her –  a baby to my 6 year old. She would sit, enthralled, looking up at me with huge mahogany eyes. I would soothe her with my voice and she would eventually fall asleep.  One day, I wondered if all this gold was wasted on her, so started just talking nonsense. She turned her little head to me and frowned as if to say ‘what trash is his – let’s get back to the boy at the cave – what happened with that?’

When they were older I loved coming up with cliffhangers. I would say things such as ‘and then the door opened and standing there was’ – ah, oh! What a shame it’s sleep time – no more, and in chorus they would cry ‘no PLEASEE we need to know. Tell us more.’ Little darlings. I started to write the stories down, and have them to this day. I was such a nerd, I have written ‘story by me, aged 13 years old’ and the date. I always liked to put the date on things.

I guess writing has always been a huge comfort to me. It’s a way of escaping. I sometimes leaf through my binder of old stories, worn by time and being on the bottom of an old book shelf. My siblings even now tell me to send them off to a publisher but I am not sure they would be any good. Just so sweet they still have those rose tinted glasses for my creativity.

I wish I had more time to write. As I have discussed in other posts, a 9-5 can get in the way of that. But when I do, I always feel like I have achieved something. Even if it’s just a little blog post.

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