|Photo by Lisa Bee Photography|
When I was in school, I didn’t get many creative writing opportunities. I got snippets of it, a short story or two every now and then, but never enough for me to really explore my imagination. Still, I enjoyed the few times I got the chance to write something that wasn’t an essay (unless it was poetry. I never did get the hang of poetry).
It wasn’t until after I was diagnosed with ME/CFS (Myalgic Encephalomyelitis/Chronic Fatigue Syndrome) at the age of twelve that writing started becoming a passion for me. With the illness, I spent a lot of time off school, and quickly became bored. Being a teenage girl with a love of books and too much time to spend on the internet, it wasn’t a surprise that I came across a Harry Potter fanfiction site. I was hooked, loving how I could read even more about my favourite characters and explore the world in ways different to the books. I found fanfiction for other fandoms, and it wasn’t long before I decided to try my hand at writing it.
That was the start of a beautiful relationship with the written word, and it quickly got to the point where I always had at least one half-finished story open. With writing I could do whatever I wanted, go wherever I wanted, and I never had to leave home. I could get inside the minds of some of my favourite fictional characters, and I could explore all kinds of human interaction, which was something I didn’t get much of being home sick.
My stories got longer, I started getting more confident, and then when I was thirteen I discovered NaNoWriMo.Org. Writing original fiction was a new challenge for me, and I absolutely loved it. I was terrible at it, but I loved it! From then on, I started spending more time on original fiction than fanfiction, enjoying creating my own worlds and characters from scratch.
I wrote Take Back the Skies when I was sixteen, and it was the first time I’d finished something and been really proud of it; the first time I’d thought something I’d written actually had a chance of getting somewhere. Never in a million years did I expect I’d get this far, nor this quickly, but there’s something to be said for opportunities arising at the right time!
As much as the CFS has sucked, and as many things I’ve missed out on because of it, I can’t deny the fact that, without it, I probably wouldn’t have discovered how much I love to write. Being an author was an unattainable career for me as a kid, something really cool but not a realistic goal. And yet, here I am, nineteen and with my first published book!
My publishing journey so far has been crazy, and brilliant, and the future is looking even more so. I can’t wait to meet fans, now the book is out, most of whom probably won’t be that much younger than I am, and plenty of whom will be older! I still find it bizarre to be writing and publishing for an age group that I’m part of, but if I can prove to people that age isn’t indicative of ability, then I’ll be happy! Young writers need to be encouraged and supported like I have been, not told to wait until they’re older and focus on a ‘real job’. Writing is the kind of thing that takes time and practice to develop; the younger you start, the better you’ll get as you grow, and you never really stop growing where writing is concerned.
With the internet, and with fanfiction, it’s becoming easier for teenagers to get into writing and discover their talents, and share their writing with others. I love that kids are getting more involved, and writing the stories they want to see in the world; stories containing characters from all walks of life, that everyone can relate to. Teenagers are getting tired of not seeing themselves represented in media, and the answer is to represent themselves in the fiction they write. As far as I’m concerned, this can only be a good thing, and I think the world of publishing — particularly the world of kids’ fiction — could benefit from having a few more young authors!
Take Back the Skies is available now online and in bookstores; Bloomsbury, $16.99 RRP, 9781408847657