When I was in primary school my teachers used to tell me that I wrote great stories and that, one day, I'd be the next Enid Blyton (the JK Rowling of her day). I'd like to say that I believed them - my parents did! - but I never thought a girl like me could be an author. True, I was never happier than when writing yet another story or creating homemade comics to give to my family and friends - but become a writer? Er, no, that could never happen to me. Could it? It took me until I was scarily ancient before I began to think that it could.
What follows is my journey towards making my childhood dream a reality:
Here is a laptop. 'OK', I hear you say, 'What's so special about that? It isn't even a particularly fancy laptop. I mean, come on, isn't it a bit old-fashioned? You ought to get yourself one of those iMacs, then you'd have something to brag about.' You're right, it is pretty antiquated but let me tell you it was the state of the art when I received it as a birthday present in 2005. And it is a very special laptop because this man bought it for me:
Handsome isn't he? Well, I would say that because I'm his daughter. Anyway, the man smiling at you is my lovely dad, Roy. It it hadn't had been for him, I might have given up on that long-lost dream to be a writer. Remember those primary school teachers, the ones who said I could write? Well, I may have pushed their opinion to the dark corners of my memory bank but my parents hadn't, especially Dad. But, boy, did he need to have a long memory - and plenty of staying power: it took me decades before I picked up my pen again and started to scribble down a new story. Which brings me back to the laptop:
But no, wait a minute, I'm getting ahead of myself here. Let's rewind a couple of years, to before the laptop and I became acquainted. In a previous life (I told you I was ancient!) I used to work in education. At that time I was head of a nursery and primary school but was off on sick leave. After the hectic pace of school life, the days dragged. So guess what? I fetched a pen, sorted out a notebook and began to write. I couldn't scribble the words quickly enough so I swopped the pad for a computer, keeping the notebook to make plans and jot down ideas. By the time my sick leave was over, I had written a whole novel. It was rubbish but it got me hooked on writing again.
However, as any writer with a demanding full-time job will tell you, finding time to write isn't easy. So, when I returned to work, my writing suffered: the torrent of words that had poured out of me during my sick leave dwindled to a steady - if determined - trickle. The upshot of this was that although I had spent years working in a profession I loved, it began to lose its appeal. Rapidly. Because I had re-discovered my passion - I had to write. (Yes, I realise that sounds cliched, but it's the simple truth.) So I did that thing that everyone advises you not to do - I gave up the day job. Resigned. It might sound foolhardy to you, and maybe it was but I've never been happier.
To be continued...