|Me in a blanket decorated with penises.|
I learned to read by myself at a really young age. My mum was a child carer when I was young, so we had loads of proactive learning toys in the house for when other children came round. Things in my house were labelled so I could read what they were. My mum practiced teaching on me with educational toys and games. Words came easily to me.
Every weekend, I'd go to my paternal grandparents' house and play with my cousins. And for a long time, we'd spend that day writing a play. By which I mean, I'd spend that day writing a play and then in the evening my cousins and I would perform it for our Nan and parents. I remember that being a lot of fun. For me. I don't think my cousins enjoyed it as much, especially not as they got older. That stopped altogether when they became teenagers and started having their own lives. My younger cousins never put up with my bossing them around like that.
Then, I liked to go on an adventure with what I was writing. I wanted writing to feel like reading.
Trying to think clearly, I believe I'm stuck somewhere between being way too harsh on myself and hugely underestimating the skills of many twelve-year-olds. I don't know much about twelve-year-olds now that I'm not one.
I’ve flicked through the bound copies at my dad's house more recently and, objectively, they’re not that bad. For a child. I’ve seen published writers make some of the same technical mistakes and typos. And they’re not uninteresting. As far as children's ideas go.
I never went back to it.
I know that I have a huge problem with the publishing industry in itself and I won't pretend that that isn't holding me back. I don't like how driven by money it is. I have the same problem with film and music and I go out of my way to back Kickstarter projects and listen to new stuff on Soundcloud because I don't believe that what makes the most money is what is definitely the best. And the writing industry is the same. It's why clickbait articles exist. Because writing that is all style and no substance appeals to the lowest common denominator makes money. And so it gets the most funding and marketing by the agencies that profit off it. Learning about the publishing industry in university, about how they market you and about how they decide what they can do with you and about the sacrifices you have to be willing to make if anyone is going to take you on, put me off getting involved in altogether.
I've looked into self publishing and I don't like it. It has too much of a negative reputation attached to it. Too many people self-publish truly shitty stories that it's not worth trawling through it all to find the stuff that might be good. And I am desperately sorry that I feel that way, but I do.
I've thought about generating an online presence - being active on Twitter and blogging a lot and maybe throwing some stories around and hoping that people will start recognising my name. From every angle, it seems that that's going to be the best way to go about this. To gather a bit of a following and then maybe get an Unbound book going and hope that I'm popular enough that people will fund it. And there isn't a reason I haven't put more effort into that. Into keeping up this blog and sharing stories in different places. Into actually telling people I still write sometimes.
Not unless it's just this self-critical sense of it all being so scary and impossible. I was in a big London Foyles recently and I wandered through five floors of books. And I love going to huge, flagship bookshops and seeing all the literature and getting excited by all the words I can have.
And now that everything is starting to feel all real, like I have to be a proper grown up now and that there's no more chance to put this off, it's daunting. Seeing bookshops with five storeys of literature and knowing that I have to compete with that after I've got the attention of a publisher. It's exhausting just thinking about it.
No one else in the class raised their hands. So nor did I.
And I didn't even make an excuse to myself for why I didn't want to.
What I needed was to put this where everyone can see it. Because I have friends that already know this, and they tell me to be proud of it and to tell everyone. And even though I respect and value their opinion more than most other people, I still don't do it. If it's out there already for people to find and know and challenge me with, then I have no excuse. But I have to be the one to make that decision.