When I was in Year four at school, I wrote a short story about two mapgies who fell in love. The magpies lived on opposite sides of the train line that ran through the town and their parents forbid their love. When they tried to elope, one magpie fell out of a tree and died.
It wasn’t a literary masterpiece but my teacher liked it so much that she invited a local author to read my story. The teacher gushed over it, saying I was Shakespeare reincarnate. I didn’t know who Shakespeare was, and I certainly didn’t know that I’d rehashed one of the most famous tragic love stories ever told. The author said it was a good story but perhaps a little overdone.
Maybe it was good work for a ten-year-old or maybe my teacher was just being nice. Whatever the case, it planted a teeny tiny seed in my mind; that I was a writer.
In year nine I wrote a short story for my Social Studies teacher about a Middle Eastern woman fleeing a war zone with her small child. Mr Spark returned it to me saying, “Yvette, you must always write.”
Well, almost half a life time has gone by and I have not written. I studied writing and poetry at Uni but I was a country girl in the city and I was intimidated by all the mature age students in my class. After that I got on with life, discovering that I was a good teacher and a good leader. I immersed myself in that and didn’t give any more thought to writing.
But last year I started to get this feeling. Mr Spark’s words just kept coming to my mind, “Yvette, you must write.”
So I started writing. And then I started meeting people who write. And I started reading about writing. At first, I thought I’d just write one story. A novel for young adults, a story that I’ve always wanted to put down on paper.
But the more I write, the more I realise that writing isn’t even about producing a text. It’s about letting my creativity out. It’s about looking at the world with my eyes wide open, having experiences, noticing people, capturing moments, chasing down the threads of ideas that whizz through my mind during the day and seeing where they take me.
I’ve just finished reading, ‘Big Magic’ by Elizabeth Gilbert. She had a whole lot of wonderful advice for a timid, inexperienced writer like me. Today I am taking her advice to court my writing like it’s a secret lover. I dressed up a little. I am sitting at Dome Café on the water in Freo. I brought my laptop, my note book and a bunch of Young Adult writers to keep me company. I stacked it all up on the table and opened up my book. Creativity, I’m making time for you.
A barista swung by, collecting plates.
“Ooh,” he said. “You look like you’ll be here a while.”
“Yup, is that okay?”
“Of course,” he said. He picked up my copy of Jasper Jones by Craig Silvey.
“I poured Craig Silvey’s coffee while he wrote Rhubarb,” he said, casually. “He even thanked me in his book. Freo is a wonderful place to write. You have fun.”
Yes, I am definitely having fun.