I have been making up stories for as long as I can remember. I was never one for telling tall tales, but inventing stories and creating something out of whatever was available is a skill I’ve had almost as long as I’ve been alive.
I expect it began because I was a solitary child in my nursery years. I went to a kindergarten where I was the only black kid, so I spent a lot of time with my imaginary friends, in our imaginary world, in which we conquered civilisations, travelled through time and space, held highly intellectual conversations over cups of mud tea ( my imaginary friends were extremely bright) and generally a good time was had by all. So the first condition for an imagination to flourish was set; time and space to let it run free – one must not be afraid to spend time in one’s own head, if one expects to create anything.
The funny thing I find about writers is that they kind of tend to be jacks of all trade. I expect it is having the broad-minded imagination to be able to absorb any subject, and do well at it. Diana Gabaldon has a bachelor’s in zoology, a masters in marine biology and a Ph. D. in ecology*. She writes about…well, its difficult to put what she writes in just one box. Maria Doria Russell has a B.A in cultural anthropology, an M.A in social anthropology and a doctorate in biological anthropology*. She has written two books about a Jesuit and his companions who discover a new world. J.K Rowling studied French in university and worked in various capacities including being an English Teacher.
Writing takes years to get right. Your head has to be in the right place for the words to flow, and sometimes, after years of pouring your heart and soul onto the paper (or word document as the case may be), no one wants to read it! Self belief is crucial if one is to succeed at any writing endeavor. if you don’t believe in your work, trust me, no one else will.
Sometimes, you may open a new word document, save it as ‘whatever the story is called’ and it remains blank like that for the longest time. it happens, don’t let that discourage you. the thing to do is to start. after all, if it isn’t perfect, that is what ‘edit’ was invented for.
*Gleaned from writers’ autobiographies at the backs of their books.