I have always written since I was a small child and the urge to create superseded all other impulses, and so my family were subjected to various plays, concerts, two man band shows (my brother often accompanied me on my foray into early yearnings of a troubardorness) and I also wrote strange newspapers about animals. I think the plays were vaguely appreciated but the glorious and imaginatively named Animal Times never really hit the big time. My grandparent's copy, more often than not, was left on the dining room table along with the crusts of their sandwiches and remnants of my grandad's pipe tobacco, long after they'd gone home. Mum assured me it was pure forgetfulness on their behalf, as this is what happens when you get old, and so I excitedly penned another edition for their return. Unfortunately though my newspaper's insights weren't cutting the mustard, and yet again it would be left to gather dust in the dining room. Looking back it's not surprising the eating habits of my cats would enthrall a couple who'd survived two World Wars, but I was lost in my own imagination, and this was my favourite place to be.
My tour de forces were mainly created in my bedroom which was adorned with postcards of animals (I was obsessed, particularly by giraffes) and shrouded in the mystery of a new story about to unfold. I wrote poetry about forsaken queens, tales of secret doors and forbidden castles and an assortment of plays which always ended with either me or my brother dramatically falling off the back of the settee, regardless of the narrative. I still firmly believe this is a great way to end a play.
I digress, apart from creating my other huge love was magic. I adored anything mystical and all things other worldly; ghosts, spirits, faeries and elves, witches spells and wizardly incantations. Nothing intrigued me more (apart from giraffes). I spent days upon end ghost hunting at the bottom of the garden. My grandma enchanted me with tales of the ghost of a Scottish soldier who walked the lonely barracks that backed onto her garden. Story was part of her nature, it was in her soul and she passed the legacy on to me. Story is something that has been around since time began, it entrances us, it helps makes sense of the world around us, and like Athena and Arthur, Medusa or Merlin it brings magic into our lives. Like the myths and Gods who transcend mortality, so does story, as it is passes down the generations to be told and retold over and again.
Yes, there was nothing more incredible to me than magic. It had to exist, I knew it did. I could feel it around me. It was like the feeling I felt when I wrote. It was a way of being that was slightly removed from myself, a little other worldly. A transcendental state, like watching snow falling in a silent wood or climbing a mountain surrounded by sea where etched in the hillside is the essence of God. Magic is timeless, like stories, I could feel it. And the other element I felt that magic and story both shared was freedom. Stepping into a tale, whether it's reading a book, lamenting a poem, watching films or a play, thoughts are removed from the present and taken to another place, another way of feeling, and a sense of freedom happens. Magic is like wishing on a star, it brings hope and freedom from longing by giving your dreams an open ending.
After I was attacked I returned to writing to free my thoughts from a rather dark place and the subject I wrote about was magic. Together the writing and the magic helped me to heal as my troubled thoughts found a happier place to dwell. The book is In Between Days and it has a sweetness to it which I still like. Even though it has elements of naivety it will always be my alchemist.