How I Started Writing

I was an only child and therefore had to make a lot of my own entertainment – especially during the winter months. There were no computer games or satellite television that time. Myself and a friend of mine, Frank Mulhare used to pretend we were various crime-fighting duos – Batman and Robin; The Lone Ranger and Tonto; and Napoleon Solo and Illya Kuryakin. This awakened my imagination as we were having ‘fist fights’ and ‘gunfights’ with imaginary foes.
So, in the winter of 1969, I began creating stories for an imaginary detective/adventurer called Greg Stewart. I think I got the character’s name in a comic. My Matchbox (that was a brand name) collection of toy cars as well as various assorted model soldiers and cowboys were used to enact these stories – and I did all the voices. The stories were divided into five-minute segments, each ending with a cliffhanger, which was resolved at the beginning of the next episode. These episodes were usually enacted on my bed where I’d spread out all the toys necessary for that episode, moving them about and, as I said, doing the various voices. They were all-action stories.
I used to act out a number of episodes at a time and then maybe not do any more for a week or so. However, sometimes, in the intervening time, I’d have forgotten where I was in the story or even the story itself.
So, at school, on Monday, October 12th 1970 (funny how I remember that date!) I suddenly thought: why don’t I write these stories down? And that night, at about ten o’clock, I put pen to paper for the first time.
It was very unusual for me to be writing when I didn’t have to -especially as I didn’t like writing essays at school. So, for the following six years or more, I continued writing these stories about Greg Stewart and his friends. The first year or so, the stories and writing weren’t great, but I think they improved as time went on. I had a routine – I wrote four pages a night – usually in bed before going to sleep. I never re-read what I’d written or did any corrections – doing that would have killed the fun for me. Every night the writing was immediate and fresh – that’s what kept me going. I had a vivid imagination – had plenty of stories to tell – and I wanted to get them down on paper.
In September 1971, I began Secondary School at St. Mary’s CBS, Mullingar. I became very friendly with a classmate called Paul Nugent and told him about my writing. He said he’d like to read some of it and so his reading of my work began. And so it continued until we started our Leaving Cert year in 1975. I was writing for an audience of one. Hard to say if I would have kept writing without someone reading it, but I’ll always be grateful to him for taking an interest in my work.
In October 1976 I started my university education at St. Patrick’s College, Maynooth. I was still writing about Greg Stewart – but the stories had become darker, more violent and my routine had changed. I had grown up and sort of outgrown writing about a good-guy hero. I began writing stories about a small Irish town called Kilcoyle and devoted less and less time to the Greg Stewart stories. Then, in early 1977, I stopped writing about the good guy hero. It was in the middle of a story called ‘A Complex of Nerves’. It remains unfinished to this day.
I still have all the copy books – must over 90 in total, but I still have never read them. But I’ll always be grateful to the Greg Stewart character for giving me my love of writing – and for providing me with a retreat from the problems of a turbulent home life at points between 1973 and 1977.
“Greg Stewart, I’ll never forget you!”.

This entry was posted in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.