Last month for Valentine’s Day, we asked our community about their relationship with writing. In particular, “How did you first meet?”
We received hundreds of replies, and in the spirit of creative curiosity, we’ve been publishing a new heart-warming selection of them every Thursday. Thanks to those of you who have contacted us to share how much you have enjoyed and been inspired by these stories. They certainly remind us all why we love doing what we do!
“We tried for a year to talk it out. In the end, it was futile.
“One day, months after I'd left, a letter arrived and I heard your father's voice again. Only this time his words were sharper, clearer. I picked up my pen and wrote back. Another letter arrived. I replied. More letters came and went.
“That's how your father and I finally learned to love each other again, all those years ago.”
She reached out and pushed the hair back from her daughter's tear-stained face. “So maybe you start your day today by picking up your pen.”
– Victoria Lock
The word love burns in my memory. The word my mother often spoke. The tone varied, meaning unchanging. My mother taught me a love of words, and I would listen transfixed as they showed me another world. Words were the voices of people I loved. Read my mother told me, often. Learn. One day you will write. Her belief was unchanging that words brought miracles. A teasing banter bought her the man she loved, and me. Now I understand. A love of writing brings me a new world, rich, layered, complex. My own path. Stories are life. Words are love.
– Ruth Morgan
I still remember the flare of pleasure when I finally understood and it all became clear. Somehow I knew then that we would be together, forever, no matter what. We were introduced by Peter and Jane, and I loved it when their dog, Pat came along on outings.
And there was no holding us back. Together we roamed through time, the universe and beyond. Oh, the adventures we've had.
But it was never enough. I had to fool around; try it out for myself. You've understood as I fumble, seeking fulfilment.
You are so patient with me. Stories. My Valentine.
– Merinda Young
Growing up on a farm we had a black Collie, called ‘Teddy'.
After supper each evening, Grandpa gathered the family to pray.
As soon as Teddy saw the candle on the table, he pushed open the porch door to sleep on his night mat.
Aged ten, I wanted the world to know about our cute collie. I wrote an article for our ‘Farmer's Journal'.
No going viral then. Our local community put up a copy in the Post Office.
From my ten- year- old perspective, I felt like a real writer!
Still trying to make that dream come true!
– Pauline Cunningham
In kindergarten, Mrs. Davenport would hand us mimeographed sheets with a cartoon at the top and a few opening sentences. I'd scribble story after story in a haze of purple fumes, soon begging for more sheets. She was the first person to suggest I become an author when I grew up. Though I was obsessed with reading from an early age, I saw books as magical things that came from the stars. I didn't realise I may one day find myself as their creator. Once that seed had been planted, it was the only path for me.
– Jennifer Worrell
I was only six years old when I first fell in love. Moreover, I was already in a committed relationship and my dear parents fully supported it, since they knew how much writing meant to me. However, because I was so young, they wouldn't let us sleep together. Understandable. Needless to say, at that time, I did not obey their rules, for which I have no regrets. I would turn off the lights in my bedroom and pulled a blanket over my head, then continue writing with pen in one hand and flashlight in another.
– Loraine Carlile
I first started writing in secondary school as part of my English curriculum. Although we claim English as our national language in Trinidad, we seldom speak proper English. Thus, we are required to learn English as a language at school. The curriculum has a short story and an essay writing component. Our teacher, who I believe likes to write, gave us a list of short stories to write on a weekly basis. I found this task very interesting as my imagination soared and created these interesting characters and situations. Soon, I was submitting two short stories per week instead of one. As soon as I finished writing one story, I would start on another one. It just seemed like the most natural way to pass time. One day, my teacher advised that I should consider writing as a career and that sparked my dream of being a famous writer.
– Lynda-Ann Dial
Words were my favorite chocolate. Delectable rhymes, gooey caramel details and surprise horror fillings were my diet. I devoured them until, in my young mind, I'd run out.
What had I done? Would more appear? It wasn't a waiting matter. Words were life, I'd wither quick. I'd have to make my own.
Imperfect rhymes in colorful gel ink, details that didn't quite stick and sort-of surprises filled journal pages. They didn't compare to my favorite, quality words. Yet somehow they filled me all the same. I'd remember the taste forever; the first savory bites of what I'd made myself.
– Amber Cole
I wondered what would happen if comedy met horror. What if Abbott and Costello came across Dracula? Five-year-old me wanted to find out. So I wrote the story on construction paper, and then I illustrated it. And then I read it to my little brother, who loved it. And then we acted it out. We took turns playing Dracula, the crowd pleaser.
What if Marilyn Monroe ran into Frankenstein? I wanted to find out, so I wrote the story. It was not the crowd pleaser of the comedy / horror mashup, but I got to play the blonde every time.
– Lael Braday
In two days I was going to school. I was wetting my pants from excitement. I took paper and pencil from my father's desk. I philumped to the floor and made lines of interesting shapes. Just like I'd seen big people do. I rushed to my mother and clung to her dress. “What did I write mum, what does this say?”
She took the paper and examined it carefully.
“You are so clever darling! You have written ‘I can't wait to go to school on Monday.'”
My mother's enlightened deception gifted me with the power of words.
I was besotted.
– Diana King
For me, falling in love with writing was accidental.
In 2013 my eldest son was critically injured.
During his five months in hospital and three years of rehabilitation I had to write a daily journal for his lawyers.
It was soul destroying……On the bad days I would write a funny story to make myself laugh. Laughter in the worst of situations is good for the soul.
I am still writing every day….It is excellent therapy…words are powerful they can cut like a knife…or bring happiness. The choice is mine.
– Christine Meehan
It was Mrs Brown who introduced me.
‘Writers' she used to call us. Not ‘students.'
“Come and sit on the floor writers, we're going to start our workshop.”
Mrs Brown knew I was a writer before I did. She encouraged me, nudged and nurtured me until I'd started a long term relationship I didn't even know I wanted.
I didn't stand a chance really. Our workshop buzzed and hummed. It overflowed with excitement and passion. It thrived (and so did we). I couldn't help but fall in love.
Hook line and sinker, all thanks to Mrs Brown.
– Narissa Leung
Tears streaming down my face, my head filled with noise, the world made no sense. It was dark, gritty and lonely.
With no reprieve in sight, hope was all but lost. Deflated, defeated, ready to give up. With no saviour in sight I turned to a stranger, a stranger with an offer, an idea. A simple act, exceptionally ordinary. Pen, paper and four words that would change my life forever.
“Write your way out.”
Cautiously I scribbled down a sentence, scared of the repercussions that could come from throwing my fears out onto the page, frightened of falling further into the abyss of my misery. But, as the ink rolled off the pen tip, sentence by sentence the words poured out of my soul and onto the pages. A weight lifted.
Those four words had given me a weapon with which I could win this battle. I found myself craving the pen and those pages, and at last, have found comfort and peace in those post-script moments.
– Bonnie Spry
I was desperate when we first met. Almost hysterical. You filled so many voids. We bonded when the words could not cross my lips. You were there to channel the tears into something real, something lasting. You took my inner rage and made it seem almost beautiful, at least you made it seem less wretched.
You are not my oldest friend however, you are closer to me than anyone I know. We will never be without each other again. What you give me is hope. No matter what form you take, you offer me hope.
– Sharon Johnson
Our love affair began before I could hold a pen. A simple story of a very hungry caterpillar, parsed into a book full of holes and devoured completely.
The transformative ability of stories propelled my life. Reams of scribbled postcards and aerogrammes. Diaries, short stories, the fledgling beginnings of a novel.
A career rich with strategic pronouns but poor with the resonating magic of my early years.
And now? I live for it. I love it. I sweat and I toil over every word, every sentence, every nuance. Utopia, if a reader falls in love with it too.
– Liz Foster
It was Monday morning, at the start of Book Week, 1967. The Grade 6 class, housed for the time being in Room 9, was rowdy. Miss Templeton, their English teacher, was insisting that each of us write a short story, and the boys in the class, with one exception, were loud in their objections. A prize was on offer, but it failed to tame the savage little beasts. The deadline was Friday.
The quiet boy was drawn to the challenge. Sure enough, “The Discovery of Smugglers' Cave”, complete with apostrophe, was a winner. A love of writing was born.
– Stephen Trenowden
I lie in bed. A nebuliser to the left of me, an empty cot to the right of me.
This isn't how life was meant to be.
My mind racing. My body lazing, sleeping, failing.
A brief flash of inspiration; a memory calling.
Quick! Make a note of it, before it escapes and forgetting it becomes galling.
One scribble becomes many; therapy for what has past.
Memories I'm scared won't last.
A giggle gurgles inside of me, inspired by a future that has no hope of existing.
Yet alive on the screen in front of me; dancing, twirling, twisting!
– Immy Mohr
She was there when mum read Little Golden Books or The Teddy Bears' Picnic.
I saw her fleetingly when Miss Morasi took us up The Magic Faraway Tree.
When Dad read Robinson Crusoe, just for a moment she was a second set of footprints on that beach.
We nearly touched deep in Mirkwood. But always the goblins hovered, scoffed, ridiculed.
Year eleven: new school – day one, period one – English Lit.
A boy is reading T.S. Eliot – aloud!
Everyone is listening and no-one is punching him!
I step inside.
She is beautiful.
She smiles and takes my hand.
– Geoff Croucher
The tram lurches and rocks. My body dances, swaying with the motion of the 86. I type every day, to and from my public service job. Sometimes I look out from the 25th floor, considering my next 500 words for the tram home. Where would Miguel, my main character go next? In my literary dream world, sometimes I almost miss my stop. I feel another commuter reading my novella over my shoulder as we sway through the dusk light. I let them, sometimes subtly turning my screen a little. I watch for their reaction out of the corner of my eye.
– Jacqueline Damen
Tragedy led to my love of writing. Nana Killips, paralysed from the neck down but survived the accident.
Seeing her permanently immobilised triggered a desire to brighten her day. And though I had loathed writing since I was seven when father forced me to write a daily essay, I decided to write her a weekly synopsis of my life.
I paid little attention to writing rules or even spelling. I simply wrote in the vernacular, and if a swear word was what I thought, I put it in. Her enjoyment spurred me on, even now, twenty years after her passing.
– Martin Killips
Writing grabbed me rather than me grabbing it. A particular scene settled itself in a comfortable armchair in a corner of my mind and sipped chardonnay while reminding me, from time to time, of its alluring presence. It wasn't until my son was born that I finally heeded its call and sat down to write. That first scene became a chapter and one thing soon led to another until I had my first manuscript.
I recently had the pleasure of reading that tale of treasure, pirates and desert islands to my son who, incidentally, was born on Valentine's Day.
– Charles Duncan
Surveying my audience l took a deep breath, said a silent prayer and read the eulogy l had composed for my mother's passing.
The congregation clapped!
My carefully chosen words and sentences had made them laugh. They had made them cry.
Never did l think our friends and family would clap.
I loved my mother and l loved words.
That day l fell in love with the idea of writing.
– Pat Treleaven
When I fell in love with writing it was purely a teenage first-crush kind of experience. I grew up surrounded by literature – my parents owned a second-hand bookshop – but it was my love of music, and specifically lyrics that stole my heart. I love a song with good lyrics. Personally, I'm not particularly musical, so I turned my hand to poetry – which is sort of lyrics without music. Honestly, I churned out some candidly gruesome teenage angst. My love affair with writing has continued into adulthood, staying with me like a memory of my first true love.
– Larissa Dufty
I was in love all the while and didn't know it. Writing is like an old friend you grew up with. Always there, patiently waiting. I always took advantage of my ‘friend' writing snippets here and there until one day I realised how much I loved that friend.
It wasn't a BANG romance. I drew back. until I realised writing is an innate love so much part of me. I still keep the intimate part of the romance secret, exposing only parts of our relationship. One day we will reveal our love to the world.
– Miriam Grech
To understand my love of writing, I need to tell you about my first love – Enid. She introduced me to a world of enchanted woods and faraway trees. I made new friends, and in the school holidays we had lots of adventures, often involving criminals or lost treasure.
Eventually Enid and I grew apart, but I never forgot what she gave me – joy.
If my writing can make a reader think, laugh or cry then I am happy. It's not always easy, it's painstaking and frustrating.
But like Enid and I all those years ago, I couldn't live without it.
– Alison Sweeney