23 In Writing

When Did You Know You Wanted to Be a Writer?

When Did You Know You Wanted to Be a Writer?

I’ve known I wanted to be a writer since I was a little girl. Call it a hunch, or maybe my calling.

When I was in primary school, teachers commended me for my creativity and writing skills (not so much the grammar – some things don’t change!). Unfortunately this was suffocated in high school and snuffed out in University when the Creative Writing Tutor killed my dream. From then on my creativity and ability to write only to return whenever I travelled to some exotic location. It became a vicious circle.

On completing Uni, I worked in customer service but the changing nature of people came to bother me. It’s like everyone became rude overnight, and so I started to act rude back to them! I then fell into team management because why wouldn’t I, as someone who loved helping and mentoring people? Ha I was so naive! And then I plunged head first into project management thinking it was what I was meant to do because I was good at it.

It’s funny how much your actual path in life deviated from your youthful ambitions. I’ve spent the last twenty or more years searching for a sign of what I was meant to do but never found the answer, to only realise that it was right in front of me all of the time – and that it involved my first dream – writing!

It is never too late to be what you might have been. – George Eliot

I still have most of the stories I wrote and illustrated in primary school, stored in a falling apart folio, crammed into a box of sentimental ‘stuff’ that I just cannot bring myself to throw out.

Looking back on the contents of the box, my illustrated short story called ‘Kalgoorlie and the Sad, Giant Tomato‘ jumps out. A school science experiment gone awry, Janine accidentally creates a living, friendly, giant mutant tomato. His name is Vincent and he talks (Vincent was one of the dogs I had as a kid whom my Dad gave away to our neighbour and later died of cancer). One day, Vincent (the Tomato) runs away and hides in one of the mines in Kalgoorlie (where I lived as a little-un). There are a few ‘citings’ by people and hysteria spreads, as accusations are thrown around about ‘a big red blob’ attacking miners (witnesses refer to ‘it’ as being a Russian weapon – funny how a 10-year-old can pick up on what was going on in the news at the time). Stereotypically, Vincent is just misunderstood (King Kong anybody?), and the story ends after a climax of helicopters, guns, army barricades, and tears. Vincent ends up shrinking back to his normal size – whilst remaining alive – with Janine and her best friends taking ‘turns of keeping the Tomato for a week each, at their houses…probably still doing it to this very day.’ I got an A+. The spelling and grammar were atrocious.

When Did You Know You Wanted to Be a Writer?

Then there was ‘Time Zone‘, a 13 page story written in running writing, broken down into chapters, and illustrated by moi. This one involved time travel, had loads of dialogue between characters, a romantic sub-plot, mermaids, action and suspense. I’m impressed – why can’t I create something like that now? My teacher commented ‘A very imaginative effort Janine. You have done well. More care with spelling would improve your effort. I’m impressed how you’ve maintained your story line so well. Great descriptions.’ I wrote this in 1989 – I was 12, and as you can see, yes…I still had bad spelling.

I also attempted to create a teen adventure series (at the same time I was obsessed with Sweet Valley High and Nancy Drew). This ‘master-piece’ was created on an old type-writer – so I’ll blame the inability to cut and correct spelling on the machine itself, and not on my clear laziness…It was called ‘The Teens – The Night They Saved Daylight,’ and it was an adventure story with another romantic sub-plot (I’d graduated to a love triangle by now!), with the premise of a group of young teenagers saving the world from the ‘evil’ warlock, witch, and their ‘evil followers’ Gizmo and Gremlin. This must have been written off of the back of my two weeks worth of nightmares as a result of watching the movie ‘Gremlins‘, which contained a Gremlin called Gizmo. Although wasn’t Gizmo the nice one?

Of course, there are others.

There’s the collaborative efforts from primary school that I fought to keep. I didn’t play overly nice – tantrums and tears over who did the most work and who ‘deserved’ to keep it. I came out on top, of course. And then there’s the Uni years where I will not acknowledge any of my poor attempts in the creative writing department (apart from the fact that I kept a ‘consistent’ writing journal). I will never take another creative writing course as long as I live, as I found it stifling, and it succeeded in ensuring that I did not write for many years to come. Of course, after a bit of self-analysis, this can probably be blamed on my lack of confidence and inability to accept criticism at the time – so maybe ‘never’ was a bit harsh.

Which brings me to why I blog.

Blogging has been my way of rediscovering my love for writing, something I always told myself I was born to do but for one silly reason or another never did. Blogging has led me back to my calling, and I am incredibly thankful for that.

Blogging has led me back to my calling, and I am incredibly thankful for that.

What did you want to be when you were little? 

Are you doing it now? (It’s never too late to start!)

Or have you found a new dream?


Looking for some writing prompts?

Check out these resources:

82 Blogging Ideas to Inspire Your Next Post

105 Writing Prompts to Guide You in Self-Reflection and Self-Discovery


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  • Muriel
    June 28, 2011 at 2:56 am

    Well, with a story like this you were bound to be a writer! I love Vincent’s story. I was thinking of taking a creative writing course. Well, I won’t -thanks for sharing your experience on this!

    • Janine Ripper
      June 28, 2011 at 8:06 pm

      Ahah woops sorry to people that run creative writing courses!! Glad you liked the story.

  • Hajra
    June 28, 2011 at 3:11 am

    When I began blogging I was just killing time from unemployment. I had the secret desire in me to write; but couldn’t ever take it up. When I read your posts I was so encouraged by the whole blogging experience and you were the first “Personal Blogger” I met and I loved your writing so much!

    You should take it up; it has been your childhood passion and it is where you find true happiness and you are passionate about it!

    I hope you find and pursue a great writing career so that you could leave the nasty job of yours!

    Whatever has “flown” out of the fingers is very well appreciated!
    Good luck sweetie!

    • Janine Ripper
      June 28, 2011 at 9:23 pm

      Thank you Hajra. I needed this comment as a reminder after getting a ‘promotion’ in said job…I don’t want to lose site of my end goal. I did a lot of work – personally – on reminding myself of this on the weekend. Thank you for your support, words and reminders : ) You keep me going.

  • Joy
    June 28, 2011 at 6:07 am

    I guess it really is true when people say that if you wanted to know what your true passion is, look at what you really wanted to do when you were a child. Thanks for sharing this, Janine!…for sharing your passion with the rest of us!

  • Penelope J.
    June 29, 2011 at 1:38 am

    Janine, That Tomato story was/is a winner. You should take a look at it again now that you’re an adult and maybe rewrite as science fiction. Post it on your blog and see what reaction you get. A writer is always a writer, and we’re bursting with ideas that overflow into our blog posts and beyond. Like you, I was a passionate (but book) writer when I was young but like you, I got into the adult world of business and relationships, and had to suppress my creative instincts until I was much older. Your blogging is a start and you can go anywhere from here.

    • Janine Ripper
      June 29, 2011 at 8:29 pm

      Thanks Penelope. I’ll work on it as a project : ) Interesting…Im so glad I shared it with you all!

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  • Samantha Bangayan
    June 30, 2011 at 9:19 am

    OMG! I so relate! Kudos to you for actually finishing your pieces! I used to type away on my dad’s old DOS computer and write a million introductions that turned into nothing.

    Post some short stories!! =) I loved the premise behind Kalgoorlie and the Sad, Giant Tomato! =)

  • charlie nitric
    June 30, 2011 at 11:34 pm

    Hi Janine –

    I used to write a lot when I was younger and into early adult hood. Then I stopped for a long time. When I started my first masters degree program in 2006, that got the writing ball rolling again for me which eventually lead to me starting my blog 2.5 months ago. I’m glad you’re writing again. 🙂

    • Janine Ripper
      July 1, 2011 at 8:47 pm

      Ah Charlie you are only a baby! 2.5 months old hehe.

  • josie
    July 3, 2011 at 5:35 am

    I didn’t write as a child but as I got older I wrote more and more. And then it sort of fell away with little time to write. Although I would often write short pieces for my classes to illustrate a concept. I love blogging as I get to write when I want, about what I want, and it also has some kind of an audience.

  • Adriene (Sweepy Jean)
    July 5, 2011 at 8:17 am

    Love this first blog post, Janine! You know, it doesn’t matter about the spelling and the grammar, but more the intent. Which is to say “Kalgoorlie and the Sad, Giant Tomato” sounds like an awesome story. Great plot! I’m glad you stuck with writing. Is there any more fiction in your future?

    • Janine Ripper
      July 5, 2011 at 6:54 pm

      I think so Adriene. I just need to allow myself time to sit down and focus and write some fiction : ) Still working on ‘freeing my mind’.

  • Reece
    December 9, 2012 at 12:49 pm

    Oh Vincent! The black beauty we inherited from your family. Your dad gave him to my dad and he was a beautiful soul, always gentle and especially protective of my younger brother. My ‘ever kind’ father used to blast ducks dead over rural dams and Vincent used to retrieve them from the water. Yes, he did die of cancer, the poor thing. I think of him on occasion and wished he had been treated with the same kindness that he showed us year after year.

    • Janine Ripper
      December 9, 2012 at 1:45 pm

      Wow you’ve bought back memories…how did you stumble upon my blog? I don’t remember much from my childhood, or many people, but have flashbacks occasionally. I would have hoped for Vincent to have had a better life after leaving us – I cant remember why Dad gave him away, only that a lot of our dogs ‘went to the farm’ and never came back.

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