When I was fifteen years old (young?) I wanted to be a screenplay writer. In fact, it was at the tender age of twelve (approximately) that I wrote my first novel - "Red Elf"; a parody of the BBC comedy series "Red Dwarf".
Bashed out, one Summer, on my mother's typewriter. Written in a red ink - crude drawings, scrawled in Biro, throughout the book - the book's illustrations. I can barely remember the book. I remember the first line though, "What in Greek Buggery Bollocks was that?"
That... That was my subconscious saying, "Give up. Give up, now."
I didn't though. I carried on. I wrote the whole book. Well over one hundred pages. I even sent the book off to publishers who simply wrote back urging me to pay attention at school, ignoring any specifics about what I actually sent them, other than my young age.
A wasted Summer, perhaps? No. I enjoyed myself and, that's all that matters.
I often wonder, what did I do with that book? Part of me worries that I'll find it so day, clearing out the attic at mum and dad's house long after they're gone and my brother and I are fighting over who gets the house (me, he doesn't deserve it. They love me more anyway).
If I did ever find it again - I wouldn't read it. I remember one thing at least; it was crap.
A few years past and I got more interested in films. I loved everything about them. I wanted to act in them, film them and even write them and that's when the writing hobby really kicked into overdrive.
"Dodging Death" was the first screenplay I wrote (Columbia said 'yes' to reading it but I never heard from them again - until they went bust) - all about a hitman called 'Death' (yep, really THAT lame). I even asked Rik Mayall's agent if he'd have a read.
I didn't care, though.
I ended up writing, keeping in mind that I'd make the films myself one day. Even make them with friends, if need be. During college my friends (Matt Yates, James Burrows, Drake) would often talk about making the films. Alas, we only ever made unscripted films for a laugh, during weekends.... another hobby I got during secondary school when I used to make films with school chums - only to show other classmates the masterpieces the following week.
The secondary school films - 'The Tramp Saga'. An evil tramp living in the woods killing kids. Unscripted. Brilliant. I still have them on VHS.
I really must destroy that.
Any spare time I had, I spent writing. Even if I thought it was rubbish, I bashed it out just to get the thing written.... done and dusted so I could move onto the next project. Now I have the rule - if I don't like that I am writing within the first 20 pages.... I'll bin it and move on immediately.
People say it's best to keep writing. I disagree. If something isn't working out for the author of their own book in 20 odd pages.... readers would have given up with it after ten pages.
The point of all this rambling?
Well, I'm now 31 years old. Just released the final part of 'Happy Ever After'.
'Happy Ever After' started as a screenplay when I was around the age of eighteen. There's notes to the story (which made it into the final book) in one of my notebooks - clearly dated 1998.
'Love Life' - the book I released second of all? Again, I have notes for this title dated back to 1997.
Next up I'm writing 'The Chosen Routes' - a project I scripted when I was at Drama (I must have been around the age of fifteen or sixteen so.... 1995).
Not forgetting I have a sci-fi book called 'The Last Stop' lined up - notes from the same time period as 'The Chosen Routes'.
I guess the point I am making is - if you spend any time writing notes for ideas you have.... never give up on them. Never turn your back on them. You never know when you'll find a use for them.
My story ideas from approximately fifteen years ago..... only now are they seeing the light of day.
And it feels great.
I knew I wasn't wasting my childhood.