I like to consider myself a Web & Graphic Designer in the real world, and a Creative Writer in la-la-land where I clock off to write novels in english. I am fulfilled by each world in different ways.
Design gets me excited about communicating ideas to and with other people. I often get energized with flexible briefs and fast-pace environments, I strive by looking at the clock and planning my work.
Writing is the opposite; I’m unable to write well if I’m under pressure, and I rarely look at the clock. Good writing soothes me down almost to the point of meditation.
I like coincidences, contradictions and irony, which gives me this awkward sense of humor on daily interactions that people struggle to get and the wiser tend to ignore… but hopefully it gives an original and insightful touch to my writing.
My personal goals are to listen more, control less and treasure the details.
This is the story of how I became a writer:
My first step after realizing my writing potential, was to ignore it. I don’t know if this can count as an excuse, but I was 7.
Usually we know writing is special to us pretty soon, around the same time we learn how to start, develop and finish a story on paper. I was encouraged to express creatively since 5. In Portugal, kids started school at 7 and my father wanted me to have a head start.
I started to read all sort of books from my dad’s shelves soon after, none of it for kids my age. The first I picked was a horror novel set on the amazon forest about red ants that ate people while they were still alive. The story was basically a series of horrible, slow deaths, which to me was pure excitement.
My young self believed that if the books weren’t appropriate to me, it was not because of my age (I didn’t grasp how young I was) but because I wasn’t strong enough.
So I kept reading.
Amongst many others, I remember particularly loving Stranger in a Strange Land (the censored version), by Robert A. Heinlein — a novel about a human raised by Martians on Planet Mars, who was brought to Earth when already an adult and found humans very strange — and Stephen King’s The Dead Zone, from which I developed my curiosity for the paranormal and science fiction.
My father allowed me to pick any book from his shelves as long as I promised to stop reading if I started to have nightmares. I often lied.
Around the same age, I started to fill notebooks with poems and did short stories for school. Soon after, somebody offered me a diary at Christmas and I wrote every day, mostly about feelings and how humans interact with each other. I didn’t have many friends. I filled several diaries for many years until I was 20 and my first true love of 3 years, ended. Yes, I’m talking about a relationship between a boy and a girl, though I see it now: my first true love was writing.
Anyway, my confidence was put down and I stopped believing in fairy tales altogether. No one really lives off their writing, right? I should grow up and focus on my future!
I was partly right – no one should start writing for money – but if I’d pay attention, I would know that writing kept me balanced and you just really grow up at 30, so may as well try some craziness in your 20’s and reach for some self forgiveness later.
I was never completely off writing, but I did it so randomly that nothing I wrote was ever finished or good enough. When it concerns to writing, I fought against my innate habitually for years, probably because I grew up being taught by my father (the man who admires Stephen King) that Literature and Languages is a career dead-end. So, I turned to my other creative skills: Design.
I’ve always worked and studied at the same time, to pay for Uni. After finishing my graduate degree in “Communication Design” (basically covers all aspects of graphic and web design) I managed to save some money, move to Ireland and become an accomplished Web and Graphic Designer.
When economic crisis hit Ireland the Company where I worked started to shrunk before my eyes. They where letting a lot of people go. At the end of 2009 my time came — they decided to orient all staff to 100% sales and keep only one designer (the irish one).
After some time looking for a job in Design, reality set in. Interview after interview I was told the same: although I was a very strong candidate because my Portfolio covered a wide range of skills, the market was flooded with 4+ experienced Designers. These Designers were struggling to pay the bills and would settle for the positions granted to 1+ designers like me, even if that meant radical lower incomes for them. There was no place for me in the market.
My husband suggested that I should take this opportunity to do something that I always wanted to do but never had the time or the courage.
“Is there something you would really love doing?” he asked me.
The thought “Write a Book in English!” screamed in my mind.
So my first step after realizing my writing potential – at 30! – was to run to the nearest library and find what the hell can I do with it. I brought 7 manuals on Creative Writing, Creative Editing and English Grammar and started to fill notebooks with notes.
As I read “the only way to learn how to write is to sit down and do it” (Mary Mackie, ‘Creative Editing’) I started on my first novel. I haven’t stopped studying Creative Writing and English ever since.
After 1 year of full-time writing, I noticed it was becoming harder and harder to write and I often felt disconnected from the rest of the world. My characters became strangers and I didn’t know how to bring them to life again, how they should act, what they should say… I realized this was happening because I cocconed myself at home for so long that I lost my connection with the real World and with that, the feeling for my characters.
I’ve started looking for a job by the end of April 2011 and found a great job just 1 month after that. I’ve been a Web Designer ever since.
I never stopped reading novels in english, and that kept the longing to write alive even during the times when my day job consumed all my energy and focus ’till late hours, as Design often does.
Writing is not always magical, but one of the things I’ve learned so far is that magic is nothing but a group of tricks you master with practice.