Alex CowleyHome

Buried deep in my desk cupboard are hundreds and hundreds of handwritten pages of varying shapes and sizes, and a couple of folders packed with diagrams and ideas, sketches and maps.
Created by a young teenager with a burning desire to write a story, this little paper trail is mostly hidden away, forgotten until the annual ‘time-to-clear-out-the-desk’ event leads me to sit and look through all the work that I produced back then when my world was simpler and goals seemed a lot easier to reach.

Putting pen to paper

I was a productive kid, there’s no questioning it; the stacks of paper are proof enough. I was also imaginative, always thinking of new ideas or pondering old ones.

It was never my ultimate dream to be a writer, but even back then I knew that I did want to write a book, to set my own characters in motion, to take them on journeys that I conjured up and to see what happened.

Back when I was thirteen, I embarked on my first story-writing adventure. Heavily inspired by Tolkien and C.S. Lewis, I created some characters and a fictional landscape for them to live in, and sent them off on a quest. Two hundred handwritten pages later I wrote the words, ‘the end’, and sat back; book written, job done.

And so it begins…

Looking back now, my attempt at a story was quaint but flawed, as most thirteen year olds stories tend to be. Plot holes were more abundant than punctuation, and I even managed to change a character’s name halfway through without realising. But while The Story of the Stars (I was thirteen, so can be partly forgiven for the cheesy title) was obviously never going to make it into print, it did serve a purpose: it gave me the writing bug.

Is this the beginning of the end?

I wrote a lot through my early teenage years. I was always planning a story, tweaking and refining it, trying to make it more believable and realistic; gritty was a word I used to describe what I was aiming for. I didn’t want to write fairytales or parables, I wanted to write something gripping and realistic.

So the plans went on. And on. And on.

I have still got them all in the aforementioned folders. But sadly I didn’t get far with the actual story. I don’t know if it was procrastination or if it was simply that my attention and time was devoted elsewhere, but planning was all the writing I did. And as I left my teenage years, The Story of the Starswas still the only story I had actually completed.

Maybe it wasn’t meant to be, I reasoned. Maybe I wasn’t supposed to be a writer after all. And so the stories and plans and maps and everything else were all packed into folders and placed in my cupboard, where they never resurfaced except for fond reminiscing every time I cleaned my desk.

“Everyone is entitled to his own nostalgia”

Even though I had set writing aside, I still had ideas. And a little part of me was always saddened by the fact that the twenty-two-year-old me had given up on a thirteen-year-old’s dream. Deep inside, there was still an itch to write something.

And so I decided to change. I am going to write something.

A second wind

I don’t really know what it will be, and I don’t really know where it will end up. But I know that the desire is still there and I know that now, I have far more potential to write something to be proud of.

In a way, this journal is my way of getting back into the habit of writing. For the past six years, my writing has been almost purely academic – essays, journals, reviews, proposals, business plans. I had all but forgotten how enjoyable and therapeutic creative writing can be.

It’s been a long time coming, but it’s time to pick up the pen and start something. I know that the thirteen-year-old me would be happy to see that I didn’t give up on writing.

I hope he’d enjoy reading whatever story I’m going to write.