Whilst all of the above is true, for me, I also have a rather different reason that I wanted to share. This is not supposed to be a self-indulgent post; I've been around on here for just under two years [blimey!] and I've only mentioned it once, rather fleetingly. Most of the time it isn't important, in fact I'd prefer you think that it's not important, but sometimes it is and that's the way life goes. And, considering this blog started as a tale of me and my writing, I think it's important to talk about properly. So, whilst I stop contradicting myself, make yourself a cuppa.
So. Why do I write? I write because I'm not supposed to be able to. I was born with a genetic condition no one then knew the name of, which meant my fingers were fused together [ectrodactyly and syndactyly]. So I had two lumps of bone and skin attached to the end of my wrists. Through a long series of operations [the first when I was three months old], surgeons crafted fingers for me. I have a couple missing, and they're pretty weird shapes.
I really do think that because holding and pencil/pen and writing was such a weird thing for me, and I practiced so hard at doing it, that that is why I got to love writing. Writing more and practicing is the only way that a writer gets better [that and reading as widely as possible - and I read a lot!]. Oh, I was a little brat. I wrote my first novel [Zippy the Wizard] when I was nine. I wrote plays in Year Five and my class performed them to the school. Thank goodness my parents didn't have a flippin' camcorder; in my mind they shall remain good plays!
People say that children can be cruel but, at my school, the kids were pretty excellent. I was more likely to get teased for being a swot more than anything else. But the teachers and adults of this world? Blimey. When my first poem was published in the TES when I was eleven, the local paper came round to take my photograph and my English teacher asked me if I'd like to wear gloves for it. I mean, really? Oh, yes, and there was the time the PE teacher held special GCSE classes for her year elevens to come and work out why I was able to throw a ball really far because, according to her, I shouldn't have been able to do that. I get people looking at me funny on the tube and taking photos (like, for real). Working in bookselling, I get the occasional person who won't take change from me and asks me to put it down on the desk in front of them instead; or is patronising; or comes out nervously with ridiculous questions like 'Wow, can you like... dress yourself?' [that's not made up, yo]. Kids? Yes, they're interested; they ask sometimes. Normally they just want to know if it hurts. The worst thing is when their parents try and stop them. Don't do that to your children; get them to embrace difference, get them to ask, because once you say to them 'I was born like that' they normally just say 'Cool!' and go off and do something else, but if you don't talk to them about it then they think there's something wrong with it. Vanessa's son [at the Edinburgh Bookshop] thinks I'm really awesome because some day my hands are going to be made out of metal and I could punch anyone I liked [oh to be twelve again!].
Sorry, I sidetracked a bit there. Yes. So. When I was eight I got all stubborn I went as far as learning how to play the piano - all the grades and all that (I got told off in my exams for 'using the wrong fingering' *facepalm). And, whilst I can no longer play very well, the knowledege that I did that will always be really important to me. My hands were also not the only thing affected by my genetic condition (EEC Syndrome); I was born without tear ducts, I have some webbed toes [let's go swimming!], I have cleft kidneys, I had teeth in various parts of my skull so I've had some ops. on my eyes and my mouth, I had to have a biopsy to my tongue last year [that was not pleasant!] to remove part of it.
So, yes. There we go. Let your children (if you have them) ask about differences - embrace differences yourself. And if you want to write, then bloody well write. Go on. Off you go. You never know what might happen. x