• Anna Hughes

New website, clean slate

Updated: Jul 10

What makes a writer? Number of articles published? Amount of money earned? Or is it more simple than that – the basic act of constructing words in an order that will mean something to someone?

For most of my life I have loved words. Poems and novels were hoovered up by my curious teenage brain, with lists of words whose meaning I didn't know written on sticky notes and tacked around my bed. I discovered the magic of using adjectives evocatively and conjuring up images in my GCSE year, a resulting poem being used by the teacher as an exemplar of what others could achieve – though the praise was excruciating for a slightly goofy student in the years when classmates’ propensity to tease meant you’d rather keep a low profile.

There was much joy in picking books and plays apart during my English Literature A level, and the works that we analysed during those formative years, where our minds were at their hungriest, left a lasting and deep impression. Poems and passages from novels were committed to memory, where many remain to this day.

It wasn’t always painless. ‘She has a mathematical brain’ declared Herr Meulder, my German-born English teacher, writing off my early-teenage efforts in five curt words. My history A-level teacher’s growing frustration at my inability to construct a comprehensive argument was reflected in the repeated D grades on my work. Yet I’d obviously shown enough promise that Herr Meulder chose me for a story-writing competition, my imagination running riot as I sat in a classroom that, in the days before smoking was banned in schools, smelled faintly of coffee and cigarettes. And my history teacher's persistence meant that by the time I took my exams I was capable of an A-grade essay.

Over the past decade I have become what you might call a writer – not in a career sense, but in having the occasional article appear in a magazine or newspaper, several online blogs, and a book published in 2015, another in 2017 and a third in 2018. I've been writing regularly for my own website for the best part of eight years: hundreds of thousands of words have poured out of this keyboard in that time.

But moving my website over to this new platform, I made the odd decision to leave all my old posts behind. In the past, when migrating to a new site, I have always rummaged through my work and taken what I believe to be the ‘good stuff’ with me. But not this time. This time I pressed ‘delete’.

When I think of the canon of my work that has now disappeared I wonder why I hit that button. But I know that those posts still exist: my past writing is what has made me the writer I am today. It will always be with me, every word, having given me the experience, understanding and confidence to represent the sentiment I wish to express, all the way back to that GCSE poem and those slogged-out history essays. The process is, and will continue to be, ongoing.

It’s good to have a fresh start. My corner of the internet is now a little more tidy. It’s quite an exciting challenge, to build up a new body of work, and I one that I hope will be rewarding. After all, it’s deadheading a rose that makes the next grow back more radiantly.

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About Anna

Anna is an environmental campaigner, author and cyclist. She is the Director of Flight Free UK

 

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Contact Anna: anna@annacycles.co.uk