A group of published UK-based authors and illustrators of picture books, children's and YA.
Hello lovely Allsorts readers! So, when I found out that my next Allsorts post would be a look back at my teenage writing I thought I had it in the bag. I had just found the perfect solution. We moved house a year ago and I keep unpacking bits of my past – just a few weeks ago I was hunting through boxes of neglected books (I know!) looking for a volume about elves in the Dark Ages. I didn’t find the book, but instead I unearthed a faded orange cardboard folder. It contained my Year 10 GCSE English coursework. YAY! Effortless blogging – fifteen-year-old me already did the work back in 1994. All I needed to do for my next post was to transcribe some of my GCSE Creative Writing. Kaboom!
It’s awful showing your writing to people for the first time, even now when it’s writing that I have slaved over and in theory should represent how much I’ve learned and how much I’ve absorbed from all I’ve read. So I am feeling a little anxious sharing what I wrote when I was fifteen. Frankly, it’s a bit rubbish. Lots of it is horribly derivative, badly aping the style of writers I idolized. There’s one bit I quite like, though, and that’s the bit I’ll share, even though it is a great example of over-egging the custard. But it’s also story about a girl who meets a boy who is not all he seems to be. It’s a story about a beautiful but creepy old manor house, and of a girl returning to her ancestral home to find a lot more than she bargained for. So it turns out that when I was fifteen, I wrote a prototype of Hidden Among Us and The Hidden Princess. Till rediscovering my English GCSE folder, I had no idea I’d written Lissy and Connie’s story before. Here we go:
…She hoisted the bag over her shoulder, tucked a wisp of dark hair behind her ear, and stepped out into the eddies of cold air and whirling leaves. The sky had darkened to steely grey, and knotted clouds spat tepid water, seemingly at Nita herself. She ran down the imposing drive, scattering gravel behind her as she careered towards the style and the footpath home. She fell against it, breath rasping cruelly in her chest, grateful for the solid wood supporting her. On a sudden impulse, she looked back at the Manor. It crouched like a malevolent toad, watching her…
That’s enough of that: well, they say that water always finds its own level. I think it’s the same with stories. And in the meantime, here is Connie arriving home at Hopesay Reach in The Hidden Princess.
The Reach sprawled beyond the carpet of lawn: a tumbling mass of warm stone, ancient timbers and a hundred mismatched windows. The sky was a swirling mass of fiery sunset, all reflected in the lake like it was the window to another world. I stood for a moment, my cold unease in the churchyard all forgottem, just drinking n the beauty of it all. It was funny to think of how much I’d hated the Reach when we first came here, whoch was proof, I suppose, of the Reach’s power – a sure sign that I should’ve been more cautious.
Spooky, eh? What did my teacher say, back in 1994? (Mr Berry!) “I’ve enjoyed reading it, Katy, so far!”. I didn’t finish writing that story, but I do remember that his encouragement meant the world to a girl who scribbled stories on every available scrap of paper. And it turns out I was meant to write that particular story again, one day.