Ever wanted to…?

Nah, I’m kidding. I’m only taking the piss out of myself because my last three posts have started that way. Hey, what can I say? It gets you reading.

Like I’ve told you all a million times, I’ve been writing since I was a child. I used to have this little blue notebook (I have no idea where I got it from. I suspect either a) my dad gave it to me, or b) I nicked it off my parents. Probably B). And I’d write all sorts in there. I did little five chapter stories, illustrated them myself. I had characters, personality charts… everything. I was also obsessed with drawing that frog thing they put on the Nerdz packets… don’t ask…

One story in particular I remember was “Rita’s Dragon”. I must’ve been inspired by something I’d seen on TV or something my sister had read to me. This young woman found a dragon egg in her garden, looked after it, and it hatched. Then it proceeded to make a mess of her house and be generally naughty. I thought it was a great story. My writing at four years old was vivid and detailed. I’ve still got that little book, somewhere safe.

Beyond that, I always got top marks in school for my writing. I started forum roleplaying when I was 9 – inspiring me to write a story using one of my characters called Roselle and tell the story of her finding a key in the new house she moves into, which unlocks a secret passageway to hidden rooms in the house. Interestingly, I’ve actually still got elements of this story (written when I was 10 going on 11) in a planned future yarn.

I find it fascinating that things from my childhood stay with me so much, and that I’ve always had a very active imagination for making up stories. And I love to tell them and share them. In my teenage years I think I got a bit shy about sharing my writing; I stopped RP for a long time and didn’t share my writing with anyone beyond my sister. But every writer, I think, goes through that. We can be very private, as what we do isn’t often a group activity.

Another thing I used to do a lot when I was growing up was called TCG. ‘The Character Game’ was a game whose inception came after I went to see Revenge of the Sith at the cinema. Now, during summer months, I used to play with my friends in the fields near my house. We’d all seen this film, and really wanted to pretend to be the characters. I’d like to point out that it is interesting I never balked at pretending to be male or female characters. We’d just… play pretend. And have a great time. And build forts and special places to play. I think that part of the world, those fields, that village, will always have a really magical quality for me because of that.

TCG ended up with various different scenarios as it went on, and I don’t think I stopped playing until I was about 13. That might sound really “sad” to some of you, but I think it’s great when kids retain that sort of imagination right up until their teens and, occasionally, further still. It really helps with creativity and imaginative thinking, especially when it comes to putting those energies into other creative pursuits.

TCG was something me and my sister shared; she’d play with us a lot of the time. Really, it was her idea and mine together. We ended up with ‘character rosters’ of people we’d pretend to be which were so huge, we had lists. ‘Character contents’ pages were regularly updated and kept by me (an organisational genius from an early age), and my sister even began to draw our characters the way we wanted them to be – original or borrowed from some film, game, or TV show we’d recently been into.

I’ve still got all the stuff we had from back then. I can’t quite bring myself to throw away the tatty orange folder they’re in. It’s edges have softened and frayed, the pages inside are folded and yellowed. But it’s too nostalgic, too precious; they’re memories I’ll never forget. And that childhood play has really helped me to retain my imagination.