What’s the First Thing You Ever Made, Mary Sharratt?

The first things I made were pictures. I drew obsessively on every scrap of scratch paper. Coloring books were boring—I wanted to make pictures from my imagination, illustrating all my yearnings and dreams. Living in suburbia with no pets, I sketched countless horses with their manes flying. I also drew people—not people I knew, but exotic characters from other places and times. The houses I drew did not in the least resemble the one I lived in. Instead I sketched castles and gothic mansions. When I grew older and learned perspective, I drew the landscapes that these horses, people, and houses belonged to, with roads that vanished off into the distance where mountains rose darkly on the horizon. What lay beyond those mountains?

Alas my artistic skills could not keep pace with my imagination. So I stopped drawing and started writing stories. Words were the wings that could let the images inside my head fly free and finally find their home.

Mary Sharratt is a writer based in Lancashire, England. Her latest book, Illuminations: A Novel of Hildegard von Bingen is published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. Visit her website: www.marysharratt.com.