I remember it well, that very first time I actually sat down with the clear intention of writing a story. Not just a scribble, or something the teacher had directed me to do, but an honest attempt to create something of my own.
Nan had always been a reader. Agatha Christie mainly, and she loved them. I remember giving her a old ‘whodunit’ by C.S.Forester (of Hornblower fame) and she devoured it in a day. I’d been struggling to get through the first page. I was 12 however, so I suppose that has some bearing on my bafflement over the writer’s unique writing style. Well, I decided to write her a whodunit of my own. I went to my room, armed with paper and pen, and worked out all the false trails, clues, all of that…and I produced twelve pages. One for each of my years. Not that that was a conscious act, it was simply the extent of my imagination in those days.
I bashed it out on my older brother’s Olivetti typewriter, draw a cover in coloured pencils, and stapled it all together. I’d even written a little blurb on the back, put the copyright inside the front cover. Even then I knew about those things. Looking back, I’m amazed I didn’t take the literary world by storm!
She read it, and as she read I could see her as she pulled on her Senior Service (she smoked about 40-50 of these lethal things every day. She was 85 when she died. Makes you want to run away to a Buddhist monastery and rediscover the meaning of life, doesn’t it!). She chewed at her bottom lips, made little sounds from the back of her throat, frowned and scratched her head.
She hated it. I could tell.
Finally, she came to the last page and sat back, studying the small, insignificant leaflet in her hand. I’d slaved over it for…well, at least an hour. Maybe two. That’s a long time when you’re 12. I couldn’t believe it had all been for nothing.
She turned and looked at me. “Stuart,” she said, then lit another cigarette, blew out a long stream of smoke. I sat cross-legged, eager eyes glued to her. “That was wonderful.”
I blinked. What had she just said? Wonderful? Did she mean it, was it true? I reached forward and gripped her knee. “Nan…you liked it?”
“Yes, of course I did. And I couldn’t work out who it was either.” She smiled and handed back the story.
I’ve still got it. 43 years later. By now it is yellowed, torn, the spin covered in layers of cracked, brittle Sellotape, but it’s there, it exists. My first outing in the world of writing.
It wasn’t to be my last.
Here’s Nan and me when I was about 10. Happy, carefree days…those Blue-Remembered Hills…
You can find out a little more about me on the glenn Stuart author papge on Amazon, or the Stuart G Yates spotlight on Smashwords. I have 11 books published, with 2 more out in October, 2012. I am currently writing another adult thriller. You can see me on Facebook.