I've been thinking about this, and I think it's time I told the story of how I started writing. It's not all pretty, but it's my genuine experience that's changed my life for the better.
Technically speaking, my earliest memory of writing was... I think I was eleven, or I might have been nine, one or the other - I just know I was in an upstairs room in primary school, and it wasn't when I was 12. There was, and still is, thankfully, an old lady on my road about whom I thought, "She looks lonely." So I took out a copy book, which was actually a sums copy, but I didn't care, and I started writing the story, with illustrations, of Dove Airheart, a White Witch fighting to rid the world of the horrors that are Heithor (pronounced Hi-Thor) and Master O Cuther (that's pronounced O Coo-er... I was a strange child, okay!). It was never finished, but not everyone finishes their first book.
A definte point in time when I started using the word "chapter" in stories was when I was nine. I remember a story about this group of kids with super powers, except for one of them. He was the one that had the power to finish everything, after they'd gotten to a box filled with magic. The magic gave him his power, and that ended the story. Some of the characters had rubbish powers - one girl was part monkey; how rubbish is that!
Then when I was eleven or twelve, or it might have been during both ages, I wrote a short story of about 300 words, then a second and a third in series, all in the run up to secondary school when I'd finally start to write the novel. The start of the novel coincided with another period of my life - the time when I became a loner.
I know some people look at that word and think the "n" is synonymous with an "s" (i.e. loner = loser), but really, that wasn't the case. I wasn't a loner because I did something wrong; I was a loner because the people I was friends with decided suddenly, out of the blue, that there was something inherently wrong with me. At first it was a slagging thing, insults, all that jazz. Then the summer came, and I was starting my novel for about the third time. I remember the first draft being rather...bad. The second draft began as a hand written piece. The third draft, from the beginning, was on our new computer. The memory was wiped, or something. I don't know. But I lost the original draft somewhere along the line.
Then third year came. It was the most important academic year of my life to date - it was the year of the Junior Cert. And what was I doing in the morning? Chasing after a group of people who greeted my arrival at the bicycle yard with, "Oh great, here he is. Let's go."
In the months that followed, I ended up making things easier for them - I walked straight past them before they could leave. I had no choice but to isolate myself. And at lunch..? Well, I became acquinted with the first years in the school; they were more tolerable than the second years, the fourth years were mostly immature, the sixth years were sixth years were very alien to me (and I was too young for them) and the fifth years were my older brother's friends. So I talked to first years, who were on average two years younger than me. Back then, at that age, the gap seemed huge.
There were several unpelasurable incidents during the year, but I did write a lot too. The book, What Lurks Through the Mirror was written most nights, some of them for a much longer duration of time. I aimed for 9 pages a chapter and 24 chapters, without really considering anything like font size or the line spacing. As it happened, it was 9 pages of size ten Times New Roman, single line spacing. Hard to read and hard to get nine pages out of.
During my exile from the people in my year, I made a concious decision not to use violence to solve any of my problems. When it came closer to the exams, one of my old friends arrived on the scene, bored and alone. He was bigger than me, stronger than me, and thought that he was better than me in every single way imaginable. He kicked me, to assert his power. Instinctively, I kicked him back. I didn't enjoy it, and I stopped myself the second time he kicked me. Wanting to encourage a response, he kicked again, a little higher. I was fortunate he only hit my thigh, or there would have been a big problem following.
Then he stopped. He stopped and he saw me standing there, not defending myself, not fighting back. And he did the most amazing thing - he apologised. So I asked him - or I told him, I think - that when he sees the others, he better make sure they get the message; I wasn't about to take any more crap from them, and if they played their little "Let's go," game again, I'd report them for bullying.
And you know what? Persistence worked. I had finally beaten them. I was able to talk to them again, and they found that they actually didn't hate me. Over the next few years, I developed brilliant friendships with most, but I didn't resent the others; it was just a matter of not hanging out with them as much.
And you know what else? By June that year, in the first weekend of the exams, I finished What Lurks Through the Mirror at a whopping 120 thousand words. And that was a children's book. It was my children's book. It was the first thing I had ever written, following the biggest fight of my life, the fight I won without violence.
And the rest, the gap between now and then, is - as they say - history. History filled with friends, songs, fads, books and lots of writing. And like I said before, the events of third year changed me for the better. I was a stronger person, and I had my dream ahead of me. I was ready to face the world of writing. I wouldn't change a single thing about it.
Anyway, that's my story. It's filled with all the usual things we're all told not to do, like start sentences with "And" (especially not three paragraphs in a row!), and it's written in a mad, "Oh yeah, and this happened," sort of style, but it's all true. Just... don't feel sorry for me, okay? ^_^