A little different from most of my posts, I’ve written this post as part of an inspired idea from Gabriela Pereira over at diymfa.com.
I’m a little late to the DIYMFA book club party, but I couldn’t help stop myself getting involved. Especially when I saw the first writing prompt: what is your origin story? I’ve been meaning to bulk up my about me page for a while, so I’m going to take this excuse to explain to you readers about how plain old Phil Hurst became Phil Hurst writer.
I’m cheating a little here. I don’t remember exactly when I started writing. I’ve created stories for as long as I can remember. At the age of ten, two friends and I would act out puzzles and quests in the playground inspired by the very 90’s TV show Knightmare.
The set up
So flash forward to the third year of university, when I walked around the Leicester Student Union’s Fresher’s Fair. I was with a friend killing time until our next lecture. I walked past the table belonging to Leicester University Theatre society and mentioned off the cuff that I’d always wanted to do something around theatre and writing.
“Go on then,” Simon mumbled, unimpressed with my daydreaming, “sign up.”
I’m not an actor, so at the first production meeting I was excited when the director announced he was looking for someone to help him write the ending of the play he was presenting at the end of the first term. I volunteered and before I knew it, I was given a script and told to have a go. The only catch? It had to be done in time for the read through the following Monday.
Unfortunately, I was due to go out in Bristol that weekend with my little brother. So, being a early noughties student, I did, and woke up with a hideous hangover. But then the strangest thing happened. I got on the train to go back to Leicester, and started writing! I don’t think I could have told you my name at that point, but here I was trying to come up with an ending to a student adaptation of The Birds by the Ancient Greek playwright Aristophanes. First performed around 414 BC, I was tasked with bringing it 2400 years forward.
It wasn’t easy, but by the train pulled into Leicester, I had drafted an outline of how the play could end. I then typed away (with little idea of script formatting) and got it typed up. I had no idea if it was any good, but when I showed the director he just nodded and added my pages to his, which internally, led to celebrations. Then I slept for the rest of the day.
The cliffhanger that opens the story into a series
I stayed with LUT for the remainder of the year, and signed up for a young writer’s programme at the local theatre. I found that more people liked writing, and would happily talk about writing with me. Hooked, I started churning out shorts and stories and, by the end of my third year (when I should have been concentrating on my dissertation) a one act play called New Lives.
Seeing my work on stage was a revelation, and for the intervening years whenever I’ve had the chance I’ve written words onto the page, or the notebook, or the blog. I don’t think I’ll ever stop being Phil Hurst writer now.
If you’d like to explore my blog – why not start here?
And if you’d like to sign up for the DIYMFA book club, head over here.