On why I write and how I learned to tell stories.
I was an only child, living on the farm with my parents. With no other kids around for play-dates, it could get very lonely. Not that I minded, I was used to it, after all. I was active, loud, all over the place, as energetic as a young cricket. The one thing I hated beyond all, was sitting still for any amount of time. And because I hated it so much, eating was not really something that interested me a whole lot. I was scrawny to begin with, and my mom worried over my lack of eating, and my lack of interest in it. No amount of threats, 'go to your room's', 'if you don't eat you won't get desert's', did anything to help.
Yeah... this was not me...
The only person who could get me to eat was my grandmother. She would sit with me, patiently, and tell me stories. Every once in a while she'd get a fork of food past my lips. Until the plate was empty. My grandmother, you see, was the greatest storyteller I have ever known (and probably ever will). The twinkle in her eyes, the smile in the corners of her lips, and the way her voice rose and fell kept me spellbound. It wasn't until a few years later, that I really got how powerful stories can be.
I was sent to boarding school at the age of six (since the schools were so far away, it was the only choice). The first three years were hell, I cried myself to sleep, missing home and my parents. What got me through these years were the other children, and the stories we told each other once the lights went out. I was good at telling stories and the others often asked me for one. Being someone who can help others forget they are not home, someone who can take them on a journey to fantastical places, made me part of them. It helped me integrate myself and establish my place in the pack. It helped me belong.
A few years later I would spend some of my weekends with my grandmother and during these days we would read to each other, listen to Beethoven and watch old movies. We exchanged ideas, theories and dreams. Our time together always held an amount of magic, an escape to faraway places, a travelling of the mind. She encouraged me to keep telling stories, to write them down. She said that every story is worth telling.
My grandmother usually got me a book for my birthdays and one of them is still my favorite to this day. David Grossman's 'Someone to Run With'. Reading this book still brings me back to the times we spent together. It is a coming of age story, written with heartbreaking beauty.
One of her last letters to me contained the sentence: 'What about your storytelling? Are you still writing?' At that point puberty was in full swing and I had other things on my mind. But as is the case with puberty; there are ups and downs. I wrote through the downs and partied through the ups. But the writing consisted of dark thoughts, heartbreak, and identity crisis.
Angsty teenage writing
When my grandmother died, I stopped writing. To this day I feel her loss as heavy and painful. She was such a big part of who I was, wanted to be, and eventually became. There have been countless times I wished for her advice, countless dreams in which I talked to her, and countless empty nights, void of stories but filled with tears.
One day, I found that last letter of hers again. Just knowing someone who had been a master at telling stories believed I could do it too, was indescribable. She believed in me.
Knowing that was all I needed. I dove into my own stories head-first. And I haven't stopped since. When I published my first book I was so proud to dedicate it to her. I know I will dedicate all my books to her. For as long as I write.
Why do write? I do so for myself, I do it because I love it, and I do it because she believed I could.
My gran was the one who kindled my love for all things imaginative into an inferno. She taught me to be open-minded, courageous, to 'built it yourself if you really need it'. She taught me that:
'Every story is worth telling.'
Share your stories with me. Why do you write?