09 October, 2011

Starting As We Went On?

Many writers say that to be a good writer - or indeed any sort of writer - you need to do a lot of reading. In a previous post, I asked you what your earliest memories of reading were. The definitive answer seemed to be Roger Red Hat. Anyway, it is my humble opinion that to be a good writer, you probably need to do a lot of writing too.

So here's a question: what memories of writing do you have as a child? This one's not just for writers - we all had to write about our weekend on a Monday morning at school in order to give the teacher time to drink their tea. Tell me something you were really proud of - or really embarrassed by. Then we can all laugh at you.

I have so many memories I want to write about. But to keep this post short(er), I'll stick to just one. Every year, my primary school ran a creative writing competition which would be judged by members of the Burma Star organisation (Veterans who fought in Burma during World War Two). It alternated between stories and poetry. I won one year with a story called 'The Pendulum'. (I know, I know. Give me a break, I was nine.) But the previous year, in a shamless attempt to woo the judges, I wrote a poem called 'My Grandpa Fought In Burma'. In my defence, my grandpa did actually fight in Burma.

Well, it worked because I won the prize and my poem was published in a children's anthology. My friend Robert had a poem in the anthology too, which he wrote it from the point of view of being a bubble. There was a line in it about how all the children tried to pop him except for me, because I was nice and gentle. I imagine he wrote it on a day when it was our turn to be best friends or something - I remember being pretty chuffed at the time. Mildly embarrassing for both of us.

Anyway, in a bid to get the ball of shame rolling on this topic. I will now reproduce my earliest published work for you. Please remember I was eight. Eight.

My Grandpa Fought in Burma

My Grandpa fought in Burma, he was very brave.
He fought on and on because he had England to save.
There was lots of fighting and lots of blood
Worse than a fire, worse than a flood.
He must have been relieved when the war had ended
And lots of wounded people had to be tended.
But the main thing is, and it's added to my pride -
He's my grandpa, and he's alive.

Yeah baby. Autographs later. (Did I mention that I was eight years old?)

Sadly, those last few words are no longer true. But I like to think that Grandpa can be part of my journey as a writer by being my muse for my early successes. (Eight years old. Don't judge me.)
Over to you again now...


  1. Your grandpa was very touched at this poem, so don't knock it! My first writing was aged 6, the first half of a pirate story on bright yellow scrap paper. Unfinished ~ typical me: good ideas but no firm conclusion ~ I still have it in a box somewhere. The best thing is that I did it at home and because I wanted to, not because school demanded it. Ceve

  2. I remember writing Nomi stories for her birthday when I was very young. I often couldn't finish them either though!

  3. That's a lovely, touching poem and you should be proud of it!

  4. Thanks :) I am proud of my eight year-old self. I think it's neat for a kid of that age. It's just not the piece of writing I would like to represent me now!

    The same year, I wrote a poem about autumn that started, "The clock ticks to the sound of misty autumn..." and my teacher thought I must have copied it out of a book! I think I managed to convince her that it was genuinely my work in the end.

  5. I totally agree with you on the reading and writing theory. It's mentioned often in the top writing magazines too ... to be able to write with any level of competence you should read widely.
    Your poem is great and when the age of the author is considered it just makes it better.

    Early writing memories could be an issue here (I'm 59 in a couple of weeks ...).
    In Primary school I wrote a story about a bunch of animals that found themselves on a big boat (no, not the ark), and they had to operate it to get them to a safe land far away. My teacher asked if I'd read any George Orwell. I thought he was a new boy and his story was better. I'd never heard of him or 'Animal Farm'.
    In Secondary School we had to write a newspaper story. Mine was entitled, 'Dismembered Thigh Found In Cupboard' which was about a a couple viewing a new house ...
    When I was about 14 I was very quiet so when that was read out the lads loved it and the girls all squirmed. I made a few new mates.

  6. Tom, that's a really cute story (about George Orwell)!


Note: only a member of this blog may post a comment.