Why do I write? This is a great question and one that’s not as easily answered as I at first imagined. I started this blog because I had time on my hands. Now that I no longer have that luxury, I continue to write. But why?
In order to answer that question, we need to travel back in time to 1982, my final year of primary school. At that time, it was widely believed grammatical concepts would be absorbed by students as they read and wrote. Grammar wasn’t really explicitly taught, neither were the skills needed to write effectively. Instead, we had Process Writing. Writing was ‘taught’ by giving students lots of opportunities to write and to behave like writers. In my year six classroom, this involved writing our own mini chapter books and ‘publishing’ them. Being pre-computer days, we hand wrote or typed and hand illustrated our little novellas, complete with coloured cardboard covers and back cover blurbs. This process took a long time, had minimal teacher input and left us feeling like real writers. At the end of the term, we all had one or two ‘published’ books to proudly share with others. Mine were titled The Mysterious Mansion and A Year in the Tropics and featured strong girls undertaking daring adventures. This is the first writing I actually remember doing. I have kept my first little forays into the world of writing which started my dream of becoming an author.
A year or two later, in high school, I applied to attend a residential Young Writers’ Camp. Kids from all over the region applied by submitting a piece of creative writing. From memory, my application was a Dr Who style Sci Fi adventure, now long lost. I was successful and got to attend. I assume we had talks and workshops by published writers and teachers along with other activities. I really don’t remember anything much at all. I do remember loving it but being frustrated to experience writer’s block under pressure to meet deadlines and short timeframes. I also remember the location and a boy I met. I longed to be an author but it was just a dream and there was no one to help me turn it into an achievable goal. This was pre vision board, mentor and smart goal days. We were simply encouraged to do our best, get as close to the top of our classes as possible and keep striving to improve.
I soon found myself enjoying the process of researching and writing essays, a huge bonus when studying humanities at high school and university. I was good at it and did well. And so, I shifted from creative to factual modes of writing. I also stopped writing for pleasure. Those were the days when you literally cut and pasted pieces of writing. My drafts would be cut up, added to in multiple colours to identify progressive drafts, rearranged in order and taped or stapled back together. I would then handwrite (or later, type) the final hand-in copy. I never even owned a computer the whole time I studied at university and completed both an undergraduate and masters degree without one. Computers were used only to look up references in the library and locate shelf location of books. They certainly weren’t widely used by the general public or affordable.
Once I finished my studies, I was involved in curriculum planning, lesson and report writing. I wrote a couple of papers published in professional journals and presented as conference workshops. I didn’t even consider the possibility of writing for pleasure or for profit and had forgotten my dream to one day become an author.
Throughout my life, I’ve enjoyed letter writing and have attempted quite a few travel journals. My most complete travel journal was written after walking the Kokoda Track in 2011, a milestone achievement for a milestone birthday. I kept notes along the track, jotting down memories, feelings and particularly special or difficult moments as I went. On returning home, I compiled and expanded upon my brief notes to write my Kokoda journal, entitled Kokoda June 2011 – NOT an easy road! This was purely my personal thoughts, feelings and experiences along the track. Another trekker wrote a factual journal, including historical details but mine wasn’t about that. It was simply all about me and my experience. Fellow trekkers asked to read it, as did family and friends. I was happy to share my experiences and give them a glimpse of the trek, so it did the rounds for a while. I had thankyou emails from strangers who had it forwarded to them and enjoyed reading it, which felt quite strange but kind of nice. The trainer who had prepared and accompanied us on the trek recommended others read it only after walking the track, so as not to put them off. I certainly struggled and my journal clearly showed that.
For several years, I have toyed with the idea of writing a blog. After all, it’s pretty much a public diary and I’d done that before on a small scale. At the beginning of 2018, I found myself with plenty of time on my hands, wanting to do things differently. Thus, Ordinarily Extraordinary Anna was born. Now, I am back working full time, with considerably less time on my hands, yet I continue to write.
Because I love it. I love the whole process – researching, drafting, editing (SO much editing, maybe too much) and publishing. I lose myself in my writing and lose track of time.
Because I am an idealist. I hope my writing may help others in some small way. I hope others can identify with my experiences. Maybe I can inspire someone out there to step outside her comfort zone, chase after her dream or simply find the extraordinary in ordinary, everyday moments.
Because I’m fulfilling my childhood dream of becoming a writer, albeit in a form my eleven year old self could never have imagined possible, even in her wildest dreams. It’s not the fiction I dreamt of writing to transport readers to another world but it IS writing and I’m presumptuous enough to now consider myself a writer of sorts.
Because I am the eternal optimist and dreamer. I dream of being able to travel and write for large chunks of each year without requiring a ‘real’ job to fund it. It doesn’t pay yet – at all, but just maybe one day it will.
And that, dear friends, is why I write.