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inspiration! The book(s) that made me want to write...

We all need a bit of it in these strange times...

Recipe for Beetroot Ice-cream

Izuku

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Appreciating Neil Gaiman recently. Fell on this cut from an interview where Gaiman talks about the books that made him want to write. Books that made him appreciate the craft of writing (spoiler: C. S. Lewis!).

For me, Brian Jacques' Redwall started me writing. I read Redwall when I was seven. At eight-years-old, I wrote a ten chapter "book" about a duck named Major Gil who rallied the farm animals and fought for their freedom (is this a trend of mine?). I think the dog bit him and he died in the end, but I can't be sure because the story was lost a long time ago. My mother never backed up files back in the day, but I think I deleted it before that after my mother got ahold of it and read it aloud to the family. How they laughed. Looking back, I realize it was pretty funny. But as a child I was tortured. Humiliated. It was a story of revolution--not comedy.

I do have lovely memories of hours spent walking the dirt road or trekking through the marsh in knee-high rubber boots or hanging laundry while whispering my stories to the wind, testing words and phrases and dialogues. Wetlands and wet clothes don't laugh.

Do you have a book or books that made you want to write? What was your first story / piece of writing?

 

Hannah F

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That's a really difficult question. I started writing stories very young (just for fun) and for school essay assignments - my favourite homework! I suppose the stories I clung to at an early age were the ones that nurtured my creativity: Heidi; The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe; Alice in Wonderland; The Story of the Amulet; The Yearling; the Faber Book of Children's Verse.
 

Izuku

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I started writing stories very young (just for fun) and for school essay assignments - my favourite homework! I
Ah. I regularly forget that people write for school. The first time I wrote an essay was in high school when I presented my parents with an unsolicited persuasive piece on why they should send me to school. I suppose I got an 'F', though, because they said no. :D Other than that, didn't write anything (other than hidden stories) until university.
 

Izuku

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Oh hold up. Do remember copying all the proverbs that contained the words 'wisdom' or 'fool' after I went on a run, just me and a boy, around town. That was a bit of writing. I was quite wild as a teen, if you can imagine.
 

Pamela Jo

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I remember scribbling on paper and showing it to my father to "read" to me. "It says Pamela Jo, is a little girl who likes pancakes" My grandmother had been a one-room schoolteacher so she began teaching me to read and write before I went to school, from about age 3. By the time I was 5 I was writing "poetry" and designing games. Reams and reams worth. When I'd read them to my mother, she'd laugh. Like you Stacey that did not go down well. When I asked her years later why she'd laughed, she said I scared the hell out of her. Not that they were funny or I was. She didn't know how else to respond to this weird child who didn't play like other kids. I stole matches and burned everything. I just wanted to be "normal." Of course I got in trouble for lighting the trash barrel. My resolve not to write lasted until about 1st grade where I got teachers who wanted me to write and didnt laugh but gave me the only A's I ever saw. So it wasn't really books that inspired me, though I worked my way through the small-town library. Nancy Drew, Tarzan, what ever my brother who was 2 years older brought home from school. My family were all great story tellers. Family gatherings were about who could out do all the others, though many anecdotes were probably more fiction than truth. Never let facts get in the way of a good story. Maybe I wrote because there was nothing more exciting to me than becoming like those grown-ups sitting around a card table playing pitch holding each other spellbound with words.
 

Serra K

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Writing began as an act of passion but quickly became an act of defiance. One of my early poems was about a dead baby. My father came down on me like a ton of bricks. At school I wrote a poem about a waterfall, complete with illustration and was praised, then sent from there to the principal and every other classroom to show off my work. Back home, my father would keep an eye out for everything I wrote down. Perhaps he was worried about our home life being made public. He would regularly make me put my papers in the fireplace and set them on fire. Like my sister before me, (who had to stand by a binful of her writing until the garbage man came) I was not permitted to have a voice, so I learned to hide my poems and stories. Books like Brother Night and The Hobbit inspired me. There was another title I remember: Brog the Stoop. These were all signposts to me and encouraged me to keep writing.
 

Hannah F

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Writing began as an act of passion but quickly became an act of defiance. One of my early poems was about a dead baby. My father came down on me like a ton of bricks. At school I wrote a poem about a waterfall, complete with illustration and was praised, then sent from there to the principal and every other classroom to show off my work. Back home, my father would keep an eye out for everything I wrote down. Perhaps he was worried about our home life being made public. He would regularly make me put my papers in the fireplace and set them on fire. Like my sister before me, (who had to stand by a binful of her writing until the garbage man came) I was not permitted to have a voice, so I learned to hide my poems and stories. Books like Brother Night and The Hobbit inspired me. There was another title I remember: Brog the Stoop. These were all signposts to me and encouraged me to keep writing.
I hear you.

I wrote a story about a girl who ran from home along a cliff edge to get to the next village and the safety of her uncle. But the cliff gave way and she fell to a jutting-out crag. Then a helicopter came and lifted her away. That's where the story ended. It was a school essay to a first line prompt. I had to hand it in the next day, but my mother read it (I realised she must have forever been sneaking into my schoolbag once I'd gone to bed) and showed it to my dad. They obviously assumed the bad parents were them (they could have been) so they hauled me out of bed and tore it up in front of me.
When I couldn't hand in my homework the next day, I asked for detention. The teacher gave it to me and I re-wrote the essay.
Ever since then, I took my essays to bed with me, left some made up English homework or other assignment I had to do in my school-bag. And I wrote my diaries in code.
Until I left home at twenty one. Until it became thankfully not my home anymore.
 

James Charles

"The hair of the dog that bit me, Lloyd."
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Writing began as an act of passion but quickly became an act of defiance. One of my early poems was about a dead baby. My father came down on me like a ton of bricks. At school I wrote a poem about a waterfall, complete with illustration and was praised, then sent from there to the principal and every other classroom to show off my work. Back home, my father would keep an eye out for everything I wrote down. Perhaps he was worried about our home life being made public. He would regularly make me put my papers in the fireplace and set them on fire. Like my sister before me, (who had to stand by a binful of her writing until the garbage man came) I was not permitted to have a voice, so I learned to hide my poems and stories. Books like Brother Night and The Hobbit inspired me. There was another title I remember: Brog the Stoop. These were all signposts to me and encouraged me to keep writing.
Wow. I can't even....
 

Pamela Jo

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So many children tortured for their gift. Good to keep in mind when doing critiques. For many it's a challenge to find the courage to tell the internalised parental voice to fuck off before they can begin to write. A critique has to not trigger that inner contempt . Evidence that publishing doesn't make a writer. Writers are born with a voice, they may lose it for awhile but it is there waiting to be found again. I know I may never get published in my lifetime, but I figure I'll write what I want anyway. Maybe my great grandchildren will find the manuscripts and enjoy and learn form them. That is enough for me.
 
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Recipe for Beetroot Ice-cream

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