For a long time I did not realise I was a born writer because it was part of me. It was innate. What we do effortlessly we take for granted. That does not mean that we don’t need to learn the rules of grammar and the way the language we are born into works. I learned all that at my grammar school and very good it was too. One of the many things that worry me about education today is that this important area of knowledge has grown weaker and weaker due to government interference especially in comprehensive schools.
Many people, because they have learned the technique of writing, think that writing books is easy. We who can do it know better [you can’t say that! – Ed]. Since I first came across spoken and written words they were my main interest. I read avidly from the time I was four years old. All good writers do that without realising they are learning at the same time. We cannot find our own individual style if we haven’t taken in, quite unconsciously, all the styles of the books that we chose to read. They have provided me with the tools of the trade.
The same is true of artists and all other kinds of creative activities. Without knowing what we are doing, the words and phrases that appeal to us stick in our memories. We also notice everything that is going on around us. We remember what particularly catches our fancy.
I used to tell stories to my little sister when we were in bed at night. She usually fell asleep before I had finished. I always had vivid dreams that often took the frame of stories and have gone on all my life. Quite often, especially when I am working on one thing, like my PhD for instance, I have woken up in the middle of the night with new ideas. I usually get up and write them down immediately, in case I might have forgotten before morning dawns.
I liked to make a miniature theatre out of an old shoe box, paint a backcloth, dress up tiny china dolls for the cast and write the script. This took place when I was eight to ten years old. All the material came from my reading and my habit of noticing and listening to snatches of conversation.
All this material in my head was of immense help in my work as a psychotherapist. I was never at a loss for what to say to my clients and how to respond to them. So far I have had three books published about my therapy work. I have written several fictional short srories but have not published them. I am now on the brink of writing more fiction after I have completed several books related to my research, including this one.
One of the advantages of old age for writers is that, as long as we remain well enough, both physically and even more important mentally, we have plenty of time to do exciting work in our own comfortable homes. My son and daughter encouraged me to write my autobiography in this particular form because I have had a varied and unusual life. I learned to cope with disappointment and set- backs which are inevitable. This is the case when we are undertaking new ventures that provide valuable information for all creative people who are constantly feeling their way into the best work they can do. At the same time I aim to express myself clearly so that I am getting my special ideas across to those who are looking for new ways of writing and thinking. It is also very important that there is an element of humour and entertainment. That is the best kind of serious writing; otherwise it is easy to fall into a bog of boredom.