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  • Writer's pictureA.J.N. Gallagher

The Winding Road to Writing

I have always wondered if the gifts and talents we have are with us from the beginning, planted like seeds that grow as we grow or if they are things that we choose along the way, through opportunity and desire. Or is it both?

Are there markers along the way that point to them as we look back and what happens if we miss the opportunities presented to us, or if we miss the opportunities, will they present themselves to us again?

In short, is there a shelf life or expiry date to the gifts and talents we have. I started writing my current novel back in 2015, but actually started writing it in 1989 after a low point in my life. I didn’t realise I had the desire to write until I was at my lowest, when I broke down in tears and poured out my heart to a friend where the desire to write a story surfaced, a desire that’d been with me since childhood. I didn’t even know it was there, buried away deep in my heart until that moment reminded me of it. I began writing the story and drawings associated with it, then two years later, I abandoned the work, destroying all the work and any reference to it. It wasn’t til 2015 when I heard a motivational speaker talk on picking up dreams and visions we thought were dead that the idea came to me to start again. It wasn’t really an idea, more of an inkling. I began to write, and the more I wrote, the more I enjoyed it, and the more I enjoyed it, the more I wrote. My only consolation on my misspent youth is that with age comes maturity (although that is relative) and I find myself in a better position to write. With the introduction of broadband I was able to join other writers from around the world and work in a larger pool of others with the same desire, to help and encourage each other and glean from each other’s experience, failures and wins, but each with the same goal, to help others in their quest to write. Now it’s 2021 and I’m into the fifth draft of the main book. I look back and see the markers along the way that whispered for me to write. My writing started in my childhood, even though i didn’t know it back then. I spent my childhood discovering the secrets of a nearby estuary, to the constant worry of my parents. I had seen Star Wars, and that became the catalyst for the story. A science fiction fantasy on another world named Génarō in a swamp. With this as my base, the story grew from there. I was also inspired by Footrot flats and 2000AD comics, so I would doodle, drawing characters from my mind’s eye's view of the story. Although my creative ability was never up to the imagination of my mind. My sister would always tell me stories before bedtime. Ones she created on the spot. Ones that sparked my imagination and made me laugh.

I also remember other markers along the way that pointed to writing, but the distractions of youth focused my attention on frivolous adventures. Now that I look back, I see the whispers of my desire in me being presented along the way. Such as those in my class that would wile away the days writing humours skits and short stories about each other while other friends of mine who would record ad-lib audio adventures, one loosely based on Génarō.

Another passion of mine was listening to stories. I was blessed with a group of friends who told stories of their adventures, always tinted with humour and adventure. These sparked my imagination as we laughed away the night, listening to each other’s stories, painted with a liberal amount of storytellers embellishment.

Now that I look back I see the markers along the way, and my only regret is I didn’t pursue writing earlier, but now that I am here at this stage of my life, I realise there is no time limit to our desires, only the ones we place on it.

So I pursue it with all my heart and hope that the result brings not only joy to me but to those who read what’s on my heart once it’s published. So in answer to my original question, as long as we have breath in our lungs our dreams will always there, waiting to be discovered or reignited, and realised if given half the chance.

If you have a talent, desire or question, please comment or add your struggles, goals or musings on the subject.

I would love to hear from you.

If you have any questions, comments, or would like me to talk on in my coming blogs please email me at

Writing tips / Habits for the month.

Story outline

Whether you are a panster or a plotter, I would recommend an outline.

I think of myself as a plotting panster. I write down the scene outline which acts as my foundation. This allows me to be creative within that framework.

Sometimes I may go off on a tangent, but that is ok. This allows you to play and toy with ideas that will either lead you to a better idea or bring you back to your original idea. Sometimes I don’t even know what will happen next until I have written down the previous scene idea.

The good thing is it allows you to explore those ideas from which, if you hadn’t tired, would not know if they were the right direction or not.

We don’t know what we don’t try.

An outline could be a scene heading, a few words, sentences or even a detailed description on what you want in the scene.

You are the author, so whatever works for you is fine.

Never be scared to try.

For me, I learned the hard way that I needed to write down an outline.

The first book I started I didn’t write down the outline, I had the beginning and end sorted but not the journey, then after four years of writing I got lost.

When another idea for a side story came to mind, I didn’t waste time and wrote down the outline.

From there, I was able to write the 50,000 word first draft in a matter of weeks.

I knew what I needed to write in the scene and still had the freedom to fill it with my imagination.

I thought of the scene like this, There is a beginning and an end, I broke it down and knew how it needed to end and how it needed to begin. Then filled in the gaps.

I was surprised how easy it worked. Now I have the first draft sitting there waiting for me to start on it again when time allows. The good thing is it feels complete and I am not afraid to play with it on the next round.

The key points will still be the same, even If I feel to play around with the components, the essence of the story will be there, because I know what my goal is and can see it like a tapestry.

In short, here are the main things I think of when I write a chapter.

-What do you want to achieve in the scene? Your goal. What are trying to say.

-How does this chapter relate to the previous chapter or how will relate to the next one? (Sometimes this could skip chapters if components from one chapter intersect at a later time.)

-Will the scene move the story, character arc, or plot forward in a believable and natural way.

-When in doubt, write it out.

Quote for the month.

I write to share my joy with the world.

AJN Gallagher

Photo by Isaac Garcia from Pexels

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