My writing journey
I’ve always been an optimist. If I get a new pair of trainers I think I will actually be able to run faster. If I try a new recipe I always think it will look exactly the same as it does in the book.
Nowhere is this optimism more obvious than in reading my diary from the summer of 1985. There in week one, next to a Crayola picture of me being stung by the world’s biggest bee (I hadn’t discovered perspective yet), I devoted a whole page to practising my author signature. I was convinced it would be in demand soon. My epic stories about Chunky the Horse (a real life resident of the trout farm I lived on), were just begging for publication. ‘Chunky eats his dinner. Chunky goes for a ride.’ It was gripping stuff. As a book-mad nine-year-old I was sure of it.
It turns out I had a bit of a wait on my hands. A few more things to learn about the art of writing. Now, thirty years later, my author signature (still under development), might at last be required on August 27th this year when my debut novel ‘My Everything’ hits the shelves.
So, what have I learnt in the interim? Here are the three things that helped me most:
Making friends with writers
Aka finding my people. Finding others who people-watch obsessively, who live in their imaginations and who are always happy to spin psychological theories about why characters might do the things they do. I joined Twitter. It was full of writers and – through word races and whooping and talking openly about the trials and tribulations of creating that perfect sentence – they helped me get to The End.
I know. So easy to say, so hard to do. At first my words were so precious, that even the gentlest feedback made my jaw stiffen and my body language cross into NEGATIVE. However after my first two novels failed to fire I realised I needed help, and so I hired a ferocious editor and enlisted a very honest friend to work out why. Next step was the idea for ‘My Everything’ and they’ve helped me every step of the way.
Writing. Then rewriting. Then rewriting some more
An oldie but a goodie. If you had told me ‘My Everything’ would require EIGHT rewrites I probably would have thrown my laptop out of the window. But it did. And it’s better for them.
So, all you 9-year-old story tellers out there. Keep writing. Keep imagining.
I can promise you that on the day someone tells you how much they love your book it will all be worth it. There is no feeling like it. Pride. Joy. With a little bit of whoop thrown in.