I have been thinking about my mother a bit of late, probably because Mother’s Day is not so long past us, but also I’ve been thinking of her in terms of my writing and how she is the one person I really have to thank for making me the writer I am today.
I’ve always wanted to write. In fact, ever since I learned to form letters with a pencil, I’ve been writing down stories. Most of my early works were very much clones of whatever author I happened to be reading at the time. As is the case with many young writers, I copied the voices of the writers I admired while I was searching for my own voice.
In my earliest writing days, that meant I was emulating Enid Blyton, Jack London, Anna Sewell and the like. Then, in my teens, I emulated Elyne Mitchell (The Silver Brumby), Nancy Cato (All the Rivers Run) and moved on as my reading tastes expanded.
For a short time, I tried my hand at writing regency romance as my writing heroines then were Barbara Cartland, and Georgette Heyer.
Of course, everything I wrote, I showed to my mother and she, bless her, read every word. I remember handing her my latest piece of Regency Regurgitation one afternoon, which she duly read, and then, looking over her reading glasses at me, she said. “Why’re you writing about Lords and Ladies in England? You live in Australia, where there’s hardly a ‘luddship’ to be seen, but you’re writing this? It’s not you!”
I was stunned. I didn’t know how to answer, and couldn’t think of a single reason for why I was writing that. It got me to thinking, and that is never a bad thing for a writer. I started to reexamine what I wanted from writing, I started to read articles and books about writing, and to look for ways of putting me into my work. Not as a character, mind you (no Mary Sues here!) but I wanted to express my own voice in what I wrote. I wanted to express my own personality.
It took a while, and I had to work at it, but now I feel I have found a voice for my writing that is authentic, that is me. I’m still evolving as a writer, and probably always will be, but that’s half the fun of it anyway.