This blog is a contemporaneous account of my journey as a fledging writer of historical fiction. That’s all you need to know, really – but feel free to read on if you want some gratuitous details.
The journey started sometime in 1972 when an English teacher scrawled “You could make money!” underneath a story I wrote about being stuck in a lift with David Cassidy. It ambled along with notebooks full of romantic drivelling culminating in 80,000 words handwritten by lamplight (yes, really!) whilst working as a volunteer midwife in West Africa in the 1980s. I submitted this steamy tale of doctors and nurses to Mills & Boon – who sensibly rejected it because it was (a) poorly presented (the “t” and the “r” on my typewriter were bent out of line so the text looked more like music than words) , and (b) “too strong” for their readership. Thereafter my creative journey ground to a halt as I focused on being a responsible grown-up.
Early in the 1990s I rediscovered my foolscap manuscript and briskly worked my way through it, typing it up on my new laptop, editing forcefully as I went. Some bits were truly awful but other bits were really quite good and I began to wonder if Mills & Boons had updated their editorial requirements – but then I got involved in writing and editing non-steamy non-fiction for professional journals.
Fast-forward fifteen years to the wine-fuelled evening when I confessed my stalled writing ambitions to a friend – who suggested I sign up for a writing course. By the end of the first week any daft notions I had that writers are born rather than made were completely obliterated. By the end of the second week I had chucked the M&B manuscript in the bin. By the end of the third week I was churning out 1000 words a day using the inspirational tool 750 Words. I missed the fourth class because I was on holiday in Cornwall but it was there, in a hidden garden by the sea, that inspiration struck and I started my novel.
I submitted the first two chapters for my final course assessment and my tutor said some very nice things – but it honestly won’t have mattered what she said because nothing was going to stop me. I subsequently wrote 160,000 words in 12 months (whilst working full-time) and loved every glorious minute.
Somewhere along the way I started this blog. Posts were private until recently; I just wanted to record random ideas and with the introspective egoism of a writer it didn’t matter one iota that nobody would read them. Things changed dramatically in April 2017 when I made one of the hardest decisions of my life, said goodbye to a proper salary and embarked on life as a Writer.
I may never get published – but by the time I realise that I will probably be past caring.