I spent a quiet day in with the lovely Crow, but it brought me back to this day a year ago when I was doing something quite different, that really would change my life for the better! No exaggeration here, just a cliche, I promise, but today is important to me for another reason: It's the day all of this began.
I've written for as long as I can remember. I've always loved making up stories and since I was small, enjoying JK Rowling and Jacqueline Wilson, I knew I wanted to write my own book one day.
In 2009 I had just moved to a new place and started a new school. I was struggling with homesickness and bullying, and while I had a lovely home life, sometimes I just wanted to get away from it all. That's when I really began to write. It was as if all these characters were popping into my head, telling me all about their lives and asking me to take them on an adventure.
So I did.
For the next couple of years, writing (especially fiction) became a bit of an addiction for me. Every day, my characters would fill my mind. I'd see them in the corridors at school, I'd think about how they'd react in different situations and songs on the radio would remind me of a certain scene or setting in my stories. It really was a huge passion of mine...
...except I didn't tell anyone.
I didn't dare. It wasn't exactly a cool passtime, was it? It wasn't like I was a secret musical prodigy--far from it--or could actually play soccer really well--even farther from it! But I remember mentioning it nervously to my friends Wolf and Phoenix, and they didn't laugh at me or ask why on earth I would waste my time. They said, "Cool." I'll never forget that.
So I continued to write, and I learned things from my writing. Personal things from my characters, but not least... how to actually write! I became rather good at it, though I didn't like to say it at the time. Teachers would compliment my work and I'd shrug it off but inside I would glow with pleasure. I knew I wasn't the best in the world, or probably even the best in the school, but I realised that I loved the feeling when someone enjoyed reading what I wrote.
In 2012 I met Bambi at a writing class, and we began swapping bits of our work back and forth. One day, I wrote something special as a gift to her. It was really the first time I'd written with an audience in mind, and I really enjoyed it. So did she! She helped my confidence grow even more.
That was when the idea of blogging came into my mind, but it would be another six months or so before I plucked up the courage to do it! Eventually, however, I came up with the idea of "Unlucky for Some". Everyone had said 2013 would be a really unlucky year, but I started the year having just starred in my school show, I had a wonderful group of friends, and the bullying had all but gone away. It didn't seem very unlucky. So I documented my year, and so many wonderful things happened that I had to conclude 2013 was decidedly one of the luckiest years of my life (as I mentioned here).
I became part of this whole online community and it was an overwhelmingly positive experience. I'd been terrified at the start of nasty internet trolls leaving negative comments, but all I've ever had has been friends and family, and even strangers on the internet, contacting me to tell me how much they enjoy my posts. That makes me happier than I can say.
I then ended up doing radio interviews, taking part in research for a TV show and writing for more websites, like www.spunout.ie and www.foroige.ie. It's still all very new to me, this concept that what I have to say, and the way I have to say it, actually matters to people. It's crazy, really.
In April, when I'd just begun the blog, I met someone at a drama workshop (having a wide range of interests does pay off). It was actually quite funny, because the reason I noticed him was that he bore a resemblance to one of the characters I'd made up! Spooky situation aside, I got to know him and found he was interested in writing, too. He also had a blog which I read avidly, while he followed mine. We got to know each other through our writing and soon we were talking every day. Gradually, we became even more important parts of each other's lives.
That's all I'll say on that.
I guess what I'm trying to say, in a very long-winded and messy fashion, is... thanks. Thank you to every single person who's read my blog, commented on it, followed it, chatted to me about it, perhaps sent something in for a competition. Because this blog has opened up so many doors in my life. I've met new people, tried new things, grown in confidence and become a happy, if not quite well adjusted young woman. If you people hadn't taken the time to read my ramblings, then that never would have happened.
Yours, if you'll have me,
Catherine Ann Minnock x