**This was supposed to have gone live yesterday, Sunday.  I need to figure out why it didn’t, so apologies!

Ah, we all play that game.  The “I remember when” game.  My dad was very good at it, hamming it up for all he was worth:  “I remember when I was a kid, we didn’t have shoes to wear and had to walk all the way to school in the snow (it hardly ever snowed in South Africa) in the winter and you should count yourself lukcy that your shoes only have holes in them.” 

Okay, so maybe I’m being tongue in cheek here, but we’ve all had it from parents and we do it ourselves. 

So why not use that “I remember whens” to remember what it was like when you were a kid for real?  Remember that all-consuming first crush?  That dreadful lie you told your parents so that you could go and meet up with your friends?  The money you secretly nicked to go and buy that toy you wanted from the shop? 

You may not remember a lot of your childhood…I of course remember being the perfect angel, studious and quiet and never ever throwing tantrums and refusing to go put on clean clothes or pick up after myself.  I was the perfect child.  <- this is a lie.  Blatantly so. Unless of course you want to believe me then this is of course, true facts.

But I digress, you may not remember a lot of your childhood, but what you do remember, you no doubt remember vividly?  I remember the day my mum took me to a poodle pedigree breeder to choose my very first dog.  It had to be a poodle because I was allergic to dog hair.  I remember seeing this tiny bit of fluff that was as big of my palm and I scooped it up and ran out the door with it.  That was my first dog – Wowi.  He had a huge pedigree and a complicated name and he was my BFF for many years.  I even taught him to steal money from my dad’s wallet.  Yep.  My dad was aware of this, of course and let it happen.  Wowi never stole anything smaller than a R20 either.  *happy days*

I also remember a bully trying to throw around his weight when I was in creche.  I must have been around five years old.  I biffed him on the nose and got sent home and my mum had to go and talk to the creche ‘cos they said I had anger management issues.  Until my mum showed them the bruises I got from the bully before I punched him as he was pinching and kicking kids smaller than him.  I distinctly remember the feelings of anger and helplessness at the time and so when my mum stood up for me, it was as if the world suddenly became a brighter fairer place.

Exploring feelings and situations like these can be used to flesh out your characters, making them real and solid to your readers.  I love picking up kids books and reading them and recognising myself in some of the characters depicted.  And that, I think, is very important, especially for younger readers – finding someone to identify with, to realise what they are going through does happen to others too. 

So, the next time you are at a loss what to write down, remember way back when, and channel those situations and emotions.  You never know if that spark may start off something altogether much bigger.

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