My sister has never been interested in being a writer. She's a very creative person - she likes to make her own cards, which are beautiful, and has begun to make felt accessories since she's moved to the Channel Islands for a few years, and given up teaching.
She's one of the cleverest people I know. Her mind is like a computer. If you need to remember an event from childhood, or figure out how to piece together where a certain relative fits into the family, or are trying to work out why a name you just heard is familiar, you phone my sister. And she'll know.
A couple of weeks ago she told me she was entering a writing competition to win some airline tickets. The competition means she has to write a children's story, so she's been sending them to me to try out on my children (who love to be guinea-pigs, and don't pull their punches when it comes to critiquing, either). I was able to pass on lots of advice, and was quite amazed myself at how much I know now, and how much of that I've learnt in the last three years. I've been able to help with editing.
But I was really blown away by one of her ideas, which was original and intriguing and made an interactive leap that could be used by the competition organisers if they wished to promote their organisation in that way. I had a moment of shock when she mentioned it, because it was so innovative that I just know I couldn't have come up with it. And that was when I thought to myself, "What if she wins? Will I be glad, or will I feel like she's swooped in and stolen, with ease, something that is mine? I'm the One in the family who wants to write, not her!"
It surprised me that I could think in such a childish and selfish way. Since then she's sent me three stories to look at, and I've realised that I have no idea if they have been well enough executed to stand a chance. As with all competitions, you're never one hundred per cent sure what judges will like or look for. But I'm facing the fact that she's entering (fearless sister of mine!) and so there's a chance she will win. And that I have to be ready to handle that, and not take it personally if she becomes successful so easily.
And I must be more mature than I think, because I really don't want her to feel rejected. And I really, really want her to win those tickets and come to visit me...but for now I need to follow in her footsteps and keep being brave about trying, and keep taking the time to write.