Reader Extraordinaire

Every superhero has an ‘origin’ story of how they came into being. If applied to myself, How did I begin to be a reader, and eventually a writer?

I have to say, I have loved this challenge, (last week’s Weekly Challenge from WordPress) as it’s one of the most interesting I have attempted. Some of the challenges, especially the daily ones, have become repetitive, thinking about how I began to devour books, and my faltering beginnings as a writer has brought back lots of memories, though not always good ones. Part of the challenge was not simply to answer the eight questions suggested by the writer of the prompt but to put together a tale. Predictably, my notes grew exponentially as I answered each question, never being one to be succinct. My mum said recently ‘why write in 2 what you can write in 22, eh?’

When I told this to a friend who works in fundraising, she laughed and said when they present a pitch to organisations and the like for funding they are told the complete opposite. I am so relieved I am a writer and not a fundraiser, I’d never manage it! Proving this to be true, I’ve had to split this post into two, with the second part scheduled for Wednesday.

Reading was my very favourite hobby

The image shows two young, pretty, blonde-haired little girls sitting close together, with a book on their knees which they are reading together.
The image shows two young, pretty, blonde-haired little girls sitting close together, with a book on their knees which they are reading together. image credit: Horton Web Design (view the website at: http://www.HortonGroup.com

Growing up, I do not remember which books were read to me as a small child. I have lots of early, disability, special nursery and school related memories, but not of books read at bedtime, or other times. Wondering if that reflects differences of experience rather than being a reflection on my upbringing. My mum especially must have read to us lots as she was the one at home with my brother and I.

I remember very clearly being assessed by the Educational Psychologist on reading and maths ability because of my disability, and even at age 7, I remember my reading age being ahead of my actual age. I loved that, I was so pleased… as were my family. It was something that was good progress that was not related to my disability, but showed I had some intellectual ability, especially as I was thought have such a level of learning difficulties when I was born that they questioned whether I could finish primary school, but this proved to be the start of dispelling those fears. (My parents say I was always a couple of years behind my peers in maths though.)

Writing for children wasn’t yet ‘cool’!

Enid Blyton – Classic or Controversial?

The first books I remember reading by myself at home were written by Enid Blyton. Someone gave me ‘The Enchanted Wood’ trilogy for Christmas or a birthday. Now her books are controversial, as some consider them racist. I remember names like ‘Fanny’, ‘Dick’, and ‘Moonface’. I remember the biscuits full of honey which exploded in your mouth, (perhaps an early warning of my sweet tooth!) The tales of faraway lands fuelled my young imagination, though. I was never interested in the Famous Five, oddly, even though I was interested in adventure in other stories. I read the ‘Malory Towers’ books, by Enid Blyton, I think there were several in the series, the main characters a girl called Darrell who goes off to boarding school called (handily!) Malory towers. I read also some of the later books which featured Darrell’s younger sister Felicity. Again, these books were a reflection of the time in which they were written, though for me this was part of the charm.

Roald Dahl – Prolific engaging and inspiring writer or dark and dangerous?

I remember some of the books I read at school too, around the same times as I read lots of Enid Blyton’s books. We read Charlie and the Chocolate Factory in primary four, on which we were to write a story using our imaginations to dream up an amazing factory. Unfortunately I got side-tracked, writing ten A4 jotter pages of rubbish. I think we possibly read George’s Marvellous Medicine too, both books by Roald Dahl. I remember too the following year reading Danny the Champion of the World, (Roald Dahl again!!) and Stig of the Dump (Clive King). I must have loved them to remember them over 20 years later.

I went on to read other Roald Dahl books including The B.F.G and Matilda. I remember feeling sorry for both Sophie, the orphan whose life changes when she meets the BFG, and Matilda, who learns to read long complex books from age of four, while sitting in the library, the only place she feels safe. She is also famous for being able to move objects with her eyes, which she uses to her advantage, both with her dysfunctional family and draconian head teacher Miss Trunchbull. I think it was one of the first books I borrowed from a library. I remember numerous trips to the local library, though I do not remember the titles of what I read, just snippets of books.

Classics versus Contemporary

When I was about 11 or 12 I think, Mum wanted me to start reading classics. It would have been good preparation for high school, and University too. However, what I read, and Mum wanted me to read differed widely. I wanted to read what she considered rubbish, namely The Baby Sitters Club and Sweet Valley High.

Children’s literature has grown exponentially since I was young, thanks to the rise and rise of authors like Jacqueline Wilson, JK Rowling, Stephanie Myers and the likes. It would be fun to know what your memories are of reading as a

child especially, too, or maybe there was some other hobby you excelled in?

(P.S. Stay tuned for part 2 on Wednesday this week which will be live at 6am if I remember to schedule it….)


This post was written in response to last week’s Weekly Challenge from WordPress:

Every superhero has an ‘origin’ story of how they came into being. If applied to myself, How did I begin to be a reader, and eventually a writer.

To have a go yourself, click on the blue link directly above this.(or shift + tab and press space if using screen reader)I’d love to read your story! I do read others posts for hours at a time.

 


 

New Directions : Introducing ‘Fifteen on Friday’

‘Fifteen on Friday’

I am relieved to be writing again after a hiatus of some weeks. Several times, I have begun posts but been unable to finish them. Often on a Friday I would look up the ‘Five Minute Friday’ prompt, write that, and then share it with others who have written on the same thing. However, I have written here for well over a year now save a couple of longer absences for illness I was unable to work through. Owing to another of these absences, it’s some weeks since I had an immensely helpful Skype chat with writer and blogger Robin Norgren about the direction she thinks this blog should be heading in.

Together, we came up with a plan, We decided, that as the ‘Five minute Friday’ prompts took me fifteen minutes to write the same length of text as other writers wrote in five, we came up with Fifteen on Friday, focusing on some aspect of life with a disability, with Lisa-Jo Baker’s blessing (the creator of ‘five-minute Friday). My first subject is one of my favourite hobbies, and one of my favourite ways to exercise save for horse-riding. It is a mix of swimming and physiotherapy exercises, hence the name hydrotherapy.

A snapshot captured in words: hydrotherapy

The air is still, and close, humid in fact. Those on the side-lines slowly swelter, though those who have luxury of the warm soothing water delight in its caress. The only sounds are of chatter, between those on the side-lines or those in the water, and sometimes between the two. There is one, however, who is perfectly still other than when disturbed by others around her. Still, though by no means emotionless …

Slowly, sore tired muscles begin to relax in the warmth, as joints old before their time are unusually buoyant, helped of course by two cylinder-shaped multi-coloured floats (‘noodles’).  Breaths become deeper, slowly exhaling the stress of the week, and inhaling the still warm air. Joy begins to seep in, from one pore to the other until eventually, all else is forgotten but the gentle rhythm of the water, allowing the person in the middle to bob gentle up and down, unfurling piece by piece. Sometimes, the air is punctuated by laughter.

The bit in the middle is the hard work, kicking, stretching, moving stiff joints, until the last five minutes are free to relax the same way as in the first five, floating gently and calmly… the last final gasp of warmth and joy. All too soon it is over, with just 20 minutes time allowed. Off for all the hassle of changing and the banter of lunch in the café before heading home to chores, errands and the day to day things. Until next time…

baking, writing, and banana loaf!!

The daily prompt from the 17/08/10:

Scribble down the first ten words that come to mind.

baking, hoovering, cleaning, ironing. shopping, money, benefits, banana loaf, writing.

Pick three of them as your blog title. Now write!!

My ‘ten words’ are my rather hotch-potch to-do list for Friday, just gone. Not being very together in recent days due to a medication increase, I have to be kind to myself and take things one day at a time, while sleeping lots and trying to handle whatever the day throws at me. It’s fitting that there was a ‘daily prompt’ to match my mood.

I love baking. It is a hobby that lifts my mood, however I am feeling, and there is something delicious to eat at the end of it. It also makes me feel ‘normal’, connects me to the side of the family who bakes, and uses leftovers! What’s not to love?!

On Friday, I made banana loaf, which I have made many times before. It is one of the foods on my ‘snack list’ from my dietician. I adapt it to have half wholemeal, half white flour in and use buttermilk to give it a unique taste. I do follow a recipe to make it though. Today I made soda bread and rock cakes with cranberries instead of raisins, and half a teaspoon of jam in the middle.

I was supposed to do lots of writing to do this weekend, as I think I explained in my previous post. Firstly this blog post, a competition entry for Tearfund’s magazine, a testimony piece, and a blog post for ‘Big Bible’.  Instead, I did lots of sleeping. I wish I could say I felt better for it, but this morning, it took me  a long time to wake up and every part of my body ached. Over the course of the day, it has eased a little, meaning I can get on with the writing, but I may just eat a couple of jammy buns to ease the rest of the aches and pains, and keep me on task!