When I grow up…

This time next week, I have to stand up in front of hundreds of Bristol uni students, and tell them why I’m a writer. Which has led me to question many things e.g. my sanity when I agreed to do this, but most of all, why exactly I am a writer.

Because when I was a small girl (all right, smaller girl) I didn’t think “ooh, when I grow up I want to spend all day by myself at the computer wondering if it’s OK to put the word ‘poo’ in a sentence or not”.

Don’t get me wrong, I loved books. In fact I lived books. And that’s the thing. Because I didn’t want to be the one writing them, I wanted to be in them. I wanted to be George in the Famous Five (not because I thought Ann was prissy, but because I had short hair and knew my limitations). Then I wanted to be Darrell in Malory Towers. Or Matilda.

Then I moved on to film and wanted to be Velvet Brown and win the Grand National, preferably disguised as a boy. Or Andy in Pretty in Pink, falling for the boy from the wrong side of the tracks. Or Baby in Dirty Dancing, getting to save the world and dance a neat merengue with Patrick Swayze sweating in a vest.

And for years I tried to be someone who would be written about. I studied drama, I worked in television, and then politics. But I would find myself, in the basement of 10 Downing Street, attempting to write 300 words on why ID cards were a good idea, actually imagining I had been dispatched to the Middle East and been attacked in a car bomb, whereupon a dreamy Deputy Chief of Staff would profess his love for me as I lay in a coma (I had moved on the West Wing by this point).

And that’s when I knew. That I wanted to write. Not speeches, or news reports, but stories. Because life was never going to be like it is in books or films. But by writing my own, I could still spend all day imagining I was George, or Darrell.

Or Rachel Riley or  Buttercup Jones or Penny Dreadful…

So that’s why I write. Because I read. Because I want to spend all day surrounded by stories. And because I want to pass that feeling on to you.

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About Joanna Nadin

I write books for children. And teenagers. I like London, New York, Essex, tea, cake, Marmite, Metric, mint imperials, prom dresses, pubs, that bit in the West Wing where Donna tells Josh she wouldn’t stop for a red light if he was in an accident, junk shops, crisps, Cornwall, St Custard’s, Portuguese custard tarts, political geeks, pin-up swimsuits, the Regency, high heels, horses, old songs, my Grandma’s fur coat, vinyl, liner notes, the smell of old books, the feel of a velveteen monkey, Guinness, quiffs, putting my hand in a bin of chicken feed, the 1950s, burlesque, automata, fiddles, flaneuring, gigs in fields on warm summer nights, Bath, the bath.
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3 Responses to When I grow up…

  1. bookwitch says:

    But now you’ve given it away, and it won’t be news!

  2. Oh this made me smile so much – this is EXACTLY how I feel.

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