Creative Writing. That's something, isn't it? To create. To write. But no, put the two together and you have creative writing, something that you make up. Bullshit your way through, if you will. Ironic in a way when we are usually brought up with the ideology that lying, and 'making things up' is bad. Very bad. Punishable by, well, punishments. To each their own.
So how did it all begin for me, this odd fever to write, to become someone. Someone recognizable in a sense? I mean, I come from a country where arts wasn't really taken very seriously. We were never encouraged to learn to dance, or draw, or paint, take up instruments, or carve etc. Theater and movies, those were for losers and people of loose morals and standings. There was no way reasonable parents from reasonable homes would ever let their children know that arts could be a viable, albeit difficult career path. No, the children must see it for what it was, a waste of bloody time.
Creative writing? What was that strange beast? And yes, books existed. Mostly in schools as text books. The idea that one could waltz into a bookstore and pick out a completely fabricated story was never heard of for me. I wasn't from that kind of a family. We didn't do books that wouldn't help us academically. No. Those were a waste of time. So, growing up, all I knew of entertainment was TV, some terrible crappy local series, and a whole lot of Indian movies and channels we got for free, even though we were in a completely separate country. It was that, or me making up stories in my head, completely happy to spend time with my thoughts, and stories, never realizing them for what they were, a kindling for a woman who would continue to fabricate stories into her adulthood, and still desperately try to make it all worthwhile in the end.
Gosh, I sound like someone out of place and time. But it's the truth. My world was a little bubble, and there was no space in that little bubble to explore the crazy, odd, wondrous world of writing. Writing a story, and not just for play. Not just in my head.
My earliest memories of doing anything creative was that I liked drawing as a kid. I'd see an image on a postcard or a book, and I'd try and copy it. I'd make my own 'books' in a sense too. At the end of each school year, I'd go through all my notebooks and rip out unused pages. Trim the pages to be a similar size if I needed, and then I'd bind them together, using string and glue, and eventually give them a cover by recycling one of the hardcovers I'd probably just massacred. Or I'd play on my own, imagining worlds with good vs. evil, and the hero always winning, saving the day and the heroine. I mean, come on. Couldn't be any more cliched even if I tried, right?
Well, that was me, up until I discovered fiction. Books filled with worlds of their own, people of their own, going on fantastic journeys. I was hooked.
My first experience of being engrossed in a story was the series Tomorrow When the War Began. I was in a new country, new school system. I no longer had to cart twice my bodyweight around in books to school. All I had to bring was my lunch and my drink. Essentially an empty bag. Who would have thought. It was like being a child, finally being allowed to be my age; Nine.
It was amusing to my parents and my two older sisters that here I was, in Year seven, going to school with my lunch. What do they even teach you in school? What do you guys do all day?
Well, we learned. We learned English, and Science, Math, History, and for the first time in my life, we learned art, music, cooking, sewing, metal works, woodwork. What were these strange subjects? I took to it like fish out of water. I plunged into this world, dived into every aspect. I couldn't get enough of school. Yeah, I too had issues that most foreign kids have in a foreign land, but the subjects were my sanctuary. I learned to research, learned that homework wasn't always pen and paper and answering a bunch of questions. I learned that we were free to think, to have our own opinions, to answer however we understood best, and not to rote learn. I learned to explore. Things I liked, things I didn't like. Things I was good at, or needed more practice in. Music. I just couldn't do it. Those notes were so odd to me.
But the best thing I learnt was that it was okay to create, to come up with ideas and stories. That there was nothing wrong in it. In fact, I learnt of such a thing as a 'writer.' It would obviously be a few more years before I discovered another thing called a 'director,' and several more years before I heard the other thing called a 'screenwriter.' All terms made to torture me. But, as I sat there, as we all sat there as a class on the floor, with our teacher reading out a story every day for an hour during reading, that I fell in love—hard, and for the first time. I fell in love with stories.
That's where I was foolish enough to attempt a novel of my own the following year. The same novel I got to 30+ pages and threw away. Little did I know that another year or two down the track, I would officially lose my wits and begin this painful journey to become a writer. I began my first proper novel at the age of 14. Yes. 14. Four plus years of learning and absorbing the language, reading voraciously, and letting my imagination go wild.
Of course, I told my family, I want to be a writer. They naturally laughed, and patted my head and said 'sure,' but it won't feed you, so keep it as a hobby. Did I keep it as a hobby? Obviously not.
Creative writing: such a foreign concept, yet it somehow liberated me, in those tiny instances when in class, we were asked to create a story, a poem, a scenario, a character. Those little moments. I don't even know when it bloomed. When it took such a hold on me.
I guess that's what dreams do huh? They sneak up on you, and don't even make an announcement. One day you wake up, and you can't imagine doing anything else. Watch out for those moments. They will be painful.
I'll leave you with something I wrote. My first poetry, at age 13—written in a Typing class would you believe; it was the first time I'd even heard of poetry, yet, we had to write something.
Here is 'Snow':
Trees spear the wintery sky
with their leafless, lethal barbs
And flake by frozen flake
whitely, ever so quietly
the sky begins to fall.
Till the next time...