Journey of a pencil wielding, grammar-free child

When Stef first asked if I’d like to write a guest post on who inspires me to write, I grinned and swayed like a giddy school girl. An opportunity to gasbag about the people in my life who have influenced the writer I am today? Oh, the joy!

Then I began to panic. How was I to contain a life-long accumulation of inspirational words, thoughts, ideas and people into an appropriately sized blog post?

I mean, that would require starting way back at the beginning, at a time when books grew on bookshelves and the stories in them were real. A time when I couldn’t read the words myself but could envision those imaginary worlds as clearly and as vividly as if I were right there living in them.

I was too young at the time to process the idea that an actual person was behind all those amazing stories, but still I admired and listened on with great attention, and was in no small way inspired by the faceless and ‘non-existent’ writers who made a young girl’s dreams come to life.

Then came a dangerous time. It was a time when I was old enough to wield a number of various writing instruments, ranging from the thick felt tip pen to the always blunt pencil. I was unfortunately not yet old enough to appreciate the great difference between their, there and they’re nor the purpose of capital letters and why they couldn’t be placed mid sentence. Undeterred by these setbacks, I still wrote down my stories, though they rarely turned out the bestselling masterpieces I had envisioned for them. The important point to recognise here is that, grammar faux pas aside, I was still inspired enough by those faceless storytellers to try my hand at my own tales.

Then entered on my road to writing a not-so-faceless individual.

My mum.

The mathematically-minded matriarch of the family unexpectedly pulled through with arguably the finest piece of writerly wisdom I have ever received.  She told me that the only way I would become a better writer was to read, and read widely. She said my vocabulary would improve if I soaked in as much as I could from what I read and looked up the words I didn’t understand in the dictionary. An overachiever from a young age, I took up this challenge with great vigour, and frankly I don’t think I’ve stopped since.

This was a significant turning point in my journey to becoming a writer. This was when I really started to value the written word and the idea that reading could be an interactive learning process; an undertaking both enjoyable and instructive (though admittedly I was less aware of the educational side of things at the time). Naturally, when my mother saw my eagerness to read she encouraged it with a vengeance. I received my first library card, participated in read-a-thons and replaced late night television with late night reading. I treated books like most young girls treat their Barbie dolls: with care and pride.

I began responding to the repeated question, “What are you going to be when you grow up?” with “I’m going to be an author”. I was very matter of fact about it and most encouraged by the positive response of all the grown ups.

Since those days as a small pencil wielding, grammar-free child, I’ve been inspired by a great deal of writers from many creative disciplines: My teenage days watching Buffy the Vampire Slayer instilled in me a great admiration for Joss Whedon, the creator of clever scripts, witty humour and a strong female protagonist. As I got older I couldn’t help but be amazed and inspired by the intricate worlds, language and characters created in JRR Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings. During my High School years I was introduced to the classics and secretly longed for a revival of the language spoken by the characters in the Jane Austen stories, and of course, what writer could not be inspired by the great success of JK Rowling and her Harry Potter novels?

More recently I have been inspired by the incredible characters in Robin Hobb’s stories and the intelligent storytelling of Patrick Rothfuss. Dickens is a shamefully late discovery of mine, but no less inspiring in language and expression. And then there’s this wonderful world of blogging where new and upcoming writers like she who hosts the delightful Dodging Commas, Stef, remind me that I’m not alone in my endeavour to be a better writer and maybe one day see my name in print.

These wonderful writers have each inspired me to be original, think big and to not just write, but write well.

But when it comes down to the actual raw act of writing and the process behind all that creativity, the inspiration will always lead back to those first words of wisdom and the person who delivered them. That first person who encouraged me to pursue this dream, the person who has continued to tell me that I have something to say, who has helped me through numerous periods of self doubt and told me I was a good writer even when I couldn’t tell a their from a there.

And probably most importantly, the person who introduced me to the Tolkiens, Rowlings and Austens of the world, who have forever since been instrumental in my growth as a writer.

Without my mum, I doubt I’d be where I am today, writing my first novel and believing I’m worthy of the challenge. She has always inspired me to find what I love, work hard at it, and use whatever tools available to me to be the best I can be.

While she may not be the sole motivator behind my enthusiasm to write, she will always remain my very first fan, my longest supporting groupie and the foundation upon which I am forever grateful … for inspiring me to write.

 – Katy