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Writers in the Family: Nature or Nurture? Influences, Circumstance and Luck

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I love to write; it's in my blood. Stories, poems, non-fiction, travel articles and much more are waiting to be put into print.

Is Writing in the Blood?

Does writing run in the family? Is the ability to put pen to paper inherited, nature rather than nurture? Do we adapt to interests, things which come easily, or are we influenced by our education and our family environment, or is it simply a mixture of all those things?

Both my parents were writers, my father more so as he wrote stories and plays, being involved in a local amateur dramatic society when I was very young. A prolific photographer, he also wrote articles to accompany published photographs. My mother dabbled in short stories but her creative nature veered more towards needlework, soft furnishings, dressmaking, as well as pewter objects and painting.

My mother read to me at bedtime (mostly Winnie-the-Pooh!) and I became an avid reader from an early age. My last class teacher in Primary School encouraged my writing while imparting the rules of grammar and punctuation. This was continued by excellent teachers of English in Grammar School. Other family members also encouraged my interest in languages, primarily French.

So I suppose it was inevitable I would be encouraged along those lines when they were part of my early years. An interest in all aspects of language, along with drawing and painting, has remained.

Writing and reading continue to be part of my life; I belong to a book club where we read an eclectic mix of books chosen in turn by the members.

I was lucky all round to have such support and inspiration, lucky to be able to pursue my interests.


In the Family

My first grandson's story (dictated to me at 4 years old) about 'Onker' the house ghost!

My first grandson's story (dictated to me at 4 years old) about 'Onker' the house ghost!

My second granddaughter's published story, 'Mike the Mouse'

My second granddaughter's published story, 'Mike the Mouse'

No surprise then that my children and grandchildren, some more than others, love to read. One of my daughters and a couple of my grandchildren also love to write. How cool is that?

They have all been encouraged to read by their parents, so have inspiration all around them.

When he was 4, my first grandson wrote a story about 'Onker', his special friend, the house 'ghost'; difficult to read the original but you can see the dictated version above.

My now 11 year old granddaughter wrote and illustrated a children’s story ‘Mike the Mouse’ when she was 7, a response to a local publisher’s competition in schools. She won! The story was published and she has sold a few copies. Imagine my reaction to that; she had managed to publish before me! She was a little bemused at the attention it caused.

This delightful story of a mischievous mouse has a moral, a sense of collective responsibility and shows the importance of loyalty as well as telling the truth. My granddaughter held a book signing at her school fair; how proud I was!


My First Published Book

My first book publication came only last year. Self-published, it was an exercise in how to compile, present and market a collection of my own stories and poems, in an attempt to encourage others to write. I learnt by a few mistakes along the way; my technical expertise is not advanced!

Entitled 'Take a Word!', it’s a short paperback of stories and poems, each based on an individual word. As well as aiming to inspire writers to push their own boundaries, to use words and idioms in an exploratory way, I wanted to make it easy to read for those who are dyslexic or who have difficulty deciphering some prints. I therefore had it printed on cream paper, in a simple font (Comic Sans MS) and in 14pt text).


Gentle Encouragement

I don’t believe in pushing children to do anything. If they have an interest, it should be encouraged, but it ceases to be enjoyable if they are pressurised.

My eldest grandson wrote that short story about his imaginary friend, the house 'ghost'. I told him I thought it was excellent. I still have the original. He leans more to Maths and IT these days; that’s fine and of course doesn’t preclude writing.

Many moons ago, my oldest granddaughter and I started a story together, about a tree, when we were on holiday in France at a lovely old house in the heart of the country. The French for lime tree is ‘tilleul’, so we called it ‘Tea Earl’ and his roots spanned under much of the local environment and villages, emerging in several historical places. We have yet to finish that project!

The younger grandchildren all love writing, are proud to progress with their ability to form letters and learn vocabulary, and always keen to show me what they have done.

Being avid readers helps. The more we read, the more we learn about good writing. It's great that they all enjoy a vast selection of stories and non-fiction.


Read, read, read!

Classic Children's Books

Classic Children's Books

So Nature or Nurture?

I believe it is a bit of both. We may naturally lean to what we enjoy and are good at but it takes example and encouragement to proceed with those subjects and abilities. If we don’t try, how do we know what we can produce? If we have no encouragement, how do we recognise our own worth?


© 2022 Ann Carr