I have been reading for as long as I can remember. My paternal grandparents had a bookshelf behind their front door, and we visited after church for Sunday lunch. As soon as we stepped through that front door, I would figuratively dive into the books lovingly running my fingers across the covers deciding who would be next. Andy Capp comic books were the most fun at that age and got most of my Sunday attention. Grandparents and playing outside a distant second.
By the time I was in my teens I had discovered the magical Mills and Boon and at fifteen I proudly presented my first book to a group of friends at school. I had literally self-published. I bought an A5 hardcover, covered it and designed the title and front cover. I was super proud of my achievement and the constructive feedback from my all-knowing teenage friends had me convinced. The next step - fame and fortune as a published author. My dreams soon turned to nightmares when y English teacher tore my comprehension work to pieces. I vehemently objected this appalling treatment of my talent through the guidance counsellor, but the decision was upheld. It was agreed, I was a rather terrible writer.
Since that episode I have been on a rollercoaster ride with writing. Desperately wanting to pen the next great novel, inspired by some exceptional works and thinking I could do that, but then sitting down to the blank page and … nothing but crickets.
Wanting a life filled with fireworks exploding across the night sky, momentous insights and shifts propelling me forward. Instead I got gradual shifts, the occasional insight and my life changing direction at the speed I imagine it takes a shipping tanker to go north instead of south. I often wonder if the idea that life was meant to be lived like this came from watching hours and hours of shows like Dallas, Knots Landing, The A-Team, Knight Rider and MacGyver? Or from reading those Jilly Cooper, Dean R Koontz, Mary Higgins Clarke, or Danielle Steele books?
Ayn Rand, my most favoured author ever, knew at age nine that she was going to write. I’ve change careers three times and beaten myself up because of it with more talent than Bruce Lee could ever muster. Comparing myself to the popular girls at school and how successful they are in their lives now. Saying to myself: “See, you haven’t stuck with anything long enough to have made the ten thousand hours Malcolm Gladwell talks about in Tipping Point. Why do we in the west do this to ourselves. We hear something about it requiring ten thousand hours to make a success at one thing and instead of looking for the ways in which it will uplift us, we use it against ourselves in our negative self-talk measuring instead by how we have come short.
Moving on from my internal Bruce Lee beat down, I have discovered that my ten thousand hours lies in my ability to recreate myself. So, my next step? If Dory has no objection - Just keep writing.