Ever felt you have a novel inside you? Just waiting to emerge onto the page and into the sunlight - to be read in parks, on holidays, on buses, planes and trains around the world? Where does that urge to write come from? Constance Williams talk to Amia Online about her passion for writing and what ignited the author flame inside her....
Mine is not an uncommon story. I discovered my love of writing at a young age. I have vivid memories of sitting at the dining room table, carefully cutting up pieces of paper to the right size, then binding them together with a piece of string. I drew what I considered to be an elaborate front cover in crayon and then carefully wrote out my story inside in pencil. With further illustrations, of course. At five years old, that seemed incredibly important to me, for whom a story without illustrations was unthinkable. Once I was happy with my creation, I proudly presented it to my mother. Who was, of course, gushingly proud of her little girl's achievement.
Countless people have a similar story. I am not unusual. To read and to write are, of course, one of the first things we learn at school. Parents worry if their children do not love the written word. It holds a special place in our society. Words surround us and form an essential part of our lives.
Imagine a world without words. It is almost impossible to envisage, especially in today's fast moving, technological age. From the mundane to the fantastical, the written word is with us every moment of the day.
I err towards the 'fantastical' end of the writing scale, by choice. As a child, I loved nothing more than to lose myself in the endless different worlds which could be found between the pages of a book.
Literature became my refuge as I got older. That happy childhood led to difficult teenage years, where school bullying became a regular and usual occurrence. Struggling with the mundane 'real world', fiction was my escape. My way of leaving my own life and entering another's, where I could take on the role of the hero or heroine for a time. I immersed myself, often reading two or three books at a time. Taking a job in the school library helped to fuel my 'habit'.
I began to carry around a notebook and pen - so that I could scribble down ideas for characters and plotlines as they occurred to me (a habit which I retain to this day - much to the despair of my husband at the size of my handbag!) I wrote stories that, at that time, were never read by anyone. The creation in itself was enough.
I have always found writing to be its own reward. One that is quite separate from publishing. For years, I wrote for my own pleasure or for the pleasure of a very small number of people. I have, over the years, been part of small groups of writers. People who may or may not be working towards their own publishing goals, but in the meantime all want to enjoy writing for its own sake.
As a published novelist, I do appreciate those days. Where the emphasis was simply on the satisfaction of creation. Of crafting an interesting and enjoyable storyline, without the pressure of deadlines or word counts. Without knowing that the words that you put down on that page will be critiqued and corralled by an editor.
I started writing with my co-author, Lillian Bishop, some years ago now. We met through one of those writers' groups and our compatible styles and ideas lead us to start writing together. Our seemingly endless well of work then led us to seriously look at publishing. That was our first introduction to the editing process.
Sitting here today, I will be the first to admit that our work is a hundred times better, having gone through the editing process. That objective reviewing, rejecting and rewriting process is invaluable.
My own view, though, is that writing is a joy. It is my passion. It is something that, when I am not doing it, I feel like a piece of my life, my soul is missing. I could not imagine a world in which I was not writing.
Editing, on the other hand, is a job. It is a discipline. It is something which I do because I respect the opinions of our editor, and the help she gives us to make a good story great. To publish my work, I would never have one without the other. The sense of pride I have in a fully edited manuscript makes the work side of things so worthwhile.
Yet, there is something truly magical about writing for nothing more than simply fun. To not have the pressure of knowing that the words you put down on the page will be read and judged and commented on by strangers. Where the only person you have to please is yourself. I could have stayed there in the "easy" world, with no expectations or requirements.
Then I remember myself as a younger girl. The solace I found in fiction back then. How it made my life so much better. How I know I am far from the only one. My co-writer and I write for teenagers now. We create new worlds, that people can escape into. Worlds where nothing is impossible. Everyone needs to get away some times- however old they are.
And there's nothing wrong with that