I wrote a kids story and published it!
Well, I put it on Amazon. I think that means it is published, but in that my music is on YouTube sort of way. This wasn’t a life goal of mine, it just kinda happened because I felt like doing it. Please allow me to expand and share with you why.
Over the years I would spontaneously make up little tales. Usually while walking somewhere or waiting on a train. Usually to an audience of one – my wife, Emma-Jane. These are often short nonsensical tales based around environment observations, or random triggers. A particular favourite is narrating a conversation between birds or dogs, that occasionally and often descend down odd rabbit holes. They aren’t particularly memorable. Once told we just move on with the rest of the day.
Then one day while walking somewhere for something, I forget what, when the idea for the story of Gerald sneaked up on me me like a snail. It was just another short tale, not much more than a cute idea with a sweet outcome, but no more. Once told we continued on our way like always. However, it was different this time. I kept thinking about the story of Gerald, it hung around like a fart for the rest of the day. Continuing to build on that initial truncated story idea, there came a moment where I thought – well, fuck it, let’s write the story of Gerald. At this point in my life I haven’t written a fictional story of this kind since high school, about 3 versions of myself ago. I struggle to write a blog post. Undeterred, I convinced my normally rational mind that it wouldn’t be that hard. It’s like riding a bike, you never forget. Combined with great teaching by my high school teachers. This combined rational proved to be the right combined to win the argument. I was so wrong! A arrogant idiot for ever thinking such a thought.
Making up a short observational tale is easy in comparison. Pick the most obvious thing, then weave a narrative reliant on society niceties and stereotypes. I’d forgotten the bit about having to built the structure, while creating a narrative arc that connected a little with the reader. I still don’t think I have done that. Over the past year, since I made that ambitions decision, I’ve struggled to set aside time to write a first draft of a semi-coherent story – it is far easier in the beginning when energy for something new is high, versus later on when you are using treats as incentives to write. Although a word of caution, whiskey is not a good incentive when writing for long periods. After writing and re-writing massive chunks of that first draft, I finally came to terms with the story not being perfect (or not that classic I hoped for) and having neither enough skill and talent to improve it any further. Also somewhat struggling with that most unfortunate emotion in creative endeavours – getting tried of an unfinished idea. After a little, but strong talking to myself, the energy was found to focus on finishing strong. To do Gerald proud. I’m grateful to Emma-Jane for reading and re-reading parts and the whole of it, and never telling me how bad those ideas and writing really were. And to friends who read the final draft before I hit that orange ‘publish’ button on Amazon.
I still don’t definitely know why I wrote this story. It’s a sweet story, inspired by places where I grew up on St Helena, but isn’t reflective of events or childhood hopes. I’m sure it’s not Roald Dahl. But I’m over the moon happy that Emma-Jane liked it, and one day if we have kids, I hope they will like it too. I started writing it because it felt like a real chance. A chance to challenge myself. As I get older I recognise those more. When I was younger a challenge wasn’t really seen as a challenge – it was the next thing in life. A challenge is now is risk. Risk that you will suck at it, better to stay in the lane that got me this far. This was a chance to change that lane for a little while.
To attempt something creative outside of drawing or design (how I normally and historically have expressed myself creativity). It was annoyingly frustrating. The words and narrative flow would escape me. Is that passage sweet and tender enough? It that line funny enough? Is there another word I could use instead of repeating myself? Does that adjective make it more exciting? These were constant writing companions. I’m old school, I write everything in a lined pad with a pen. I cross a lot out. I forced myself to write. But you know what. After the initial excitement cooled, I bloody well enjoyed it! The process of refining the structure to make the narrative flowed better. Rearranging sentences to reveal its purest meaning. I bloody loved it by the end. I had to finish the story to prove to myself that it is indeed a journey of improvement. You can’t just dig out a diamond, you have to polish and polish it (or something like that). To learn to trust yourself that you will improve with some applied effort.
As I was finishing up the story of Gerald, I set myself another foolish ambitious task – to write a new story every year. Or until I find a better argument to talk myself out of it. Everyone has a story to tell, teaching myself how to tell mine better fills me with a growing sense of determination to get better at writing. I might and most likely will publish them on Amazon again. Why not.
If you are interested in reading Gerald (and after reading this, sincerely hoping you might), you can read it here on Amazon. Or contact me, and if you are super nice I’ve share it with you.