The World According to Renee

Views, Reviews, Short Stories and More…

I want to be a writer

This post was inspired by my friend Devin’s blog. She outlines specific moments in her life leading to the moment she knew she was a writer.

The question every kid gets is, “What do you want to be when you grow up?” My answer depended on how I was feeling that day. Truthfully though, I had no idea. I knew I liked writing and I worked on trying to get better. In the fifth grade, if we finished our work early, we could use the extra time to write a story which would be hung on the back wall for everyone to read. I only had a couple of stories there; I always took too long in finishing my work.

In high school, we had a writer in residence but I’d been sick the day of registration so I missed the opportunity to bask in his wisdom (as it happens, I can’t even remember who it was!) During this time, we got our very first home computer (complete with a whopping 25mb of RAM!). My sister and I had a writing challenge: we’d give each other the first sentence and you’d have to write as much as you can in 15 minutes. Some of those stories were priceless, but are now sadly lost to the mists of time.

As an adult, I told people I wanted to be a writer. I had various stories and ideas saved to the computer but was too shy to let anyone read them.

Then it happened: One day, I was at a seminar and met a copywriter. I’d been doing this for years in various jobs with no idea it was a job of its own! I signed up, did the course and started writing my little heart out. Herein lies the biggest secret: In the course, the first piece of advice was to tell people you’re a copywriter because you never know where it will lead and it’s often your immediate friends and family who give you your first jobs. Whereas I’d always thought “I want to be a writer”, I’d forgotten that I already was. Now, when people say to me “I want to be a writer”, I ask, “How will you know when you are one?” Often, their answer is, “When I’m published”. My reply: “Don’t you need to write something in order to be published? So yes, you’re already a writer!”

Being a published author is a journey, being a writer isn’t. I know people who are great storytellers but not good writers, and I know of successful writers who are rubbish storytellers.



July 23, 2013 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , | 1 Comment

An Interesting Life

I had an interesting chat with some Jehovah’s Witnesses recently. Here’s what they believe in a nutshell: one day, the Earth will be restored to perfection and everyone will live forever in perfect happiness, health and harmony. I was asked if I would like to live forever. I thought about all the vampire novels I’ve ever read, the torment of immortality. I thought about Paul Edgecomb from The Green Mile who watched his family and friends die, not knowing if or when his time might come. I answered no, I would not like to live forever.

The older of the two JW women said she once thought that way, but she’s since changed her mind. She remembered being young, her joints moving perfectly, how fit and healthy she felt. She recalled being on the beach, swimming and jumping in the waves with the sun on her face thinking that the moment would last forever. If she could feel like that every day forever, then count her in!

I thought about this for a moment, then asked, “Wouldn’t you be bored? All this time and nothing to do?” Both women replied that there was no hurry, they could do whatever they liked for as long as they liked… which is where I started to ponder deep thoughts. With all that free time, I can read books and watch movies! I like reading. I like watching movies. I like reading about people who are far removed from anything I could ever be. I like knowing how and why people got to be famous or why their story is worth sharing. The secret to an interesting story is suffering. Something has had to happen to a person to make their story interesting.

“But, wouldn’t it be great if there weren’t any wars? No sickness? No school massacres?” Yes, it would be great. But through suffering comes greatness. Whenever something awful happens, the best comes out in mankind. Consider The Book Thief, one of the best novels I’ve ever read. The backdrop is WWII and the story is beautiful and sad, but awesome. You’re not going to get that kind of story in a Perfect World (unless previous stories from humankind somehow exist throughout the transformation of the planet, which I’m assured will not happen as everything from the former Earth will be completely wiped out). Consider movies which are considered the best of all time, such as Gone With the Wind. Again, set against the backdrop of a war. Scarlett O’Hara et al have nothing to work with if there’s no war. Scarlett is not nearly as interesting without having two dead husbands and traipsing around creating scandals left, right and centre.

Whether or not your beliefs in the second coming and restoration of the Earth, I would not like to be part of it if there’s nothing to read or watch. Save the happy beach memories for Instagram, because there’s not really any story worth telling behind it.

December 19, 2012 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , | 1 Comment