>Teresa started it, and if you’d like to see her post, you can find it here.
Apologies if you’re sick of reading this (my) story. :o)
I never knew I wanted to be a writer. Okay, all of my school teachers thought I should also be a poet (whatever the day job), but I hated and detested poetry. Still do. If it doesn’t go tum-ti-tum-ti-tum-ti-tum, I’m not at all interested. However, no-one ever said “you should write a book” or even “you should be a journalist”. Instead, I was told: “You should be a nurse.” (I got too tall to dance …) And so I started my pre-nurse training …
It was at the age of 20, in 1984, that me, my (then) fiance and my dad were at my dad’s cousin’s in Worcester talking about a letter she had found written to her mother many, many years before. I’m not going to go into detail because it’s very personal to my dad. However, I started to learn about his dad (my dad and his older brother were orphans), and I found out he used to play billiards and snooker. He was so good he used to play with his walking stick (he couldn’t afford a cue), and he beat the late great Joe Davis at billiards – all of the snooker world knew the stories about my paternal grandad, even among players still famous today.
And so I wrote to the Kidderminster Shuttle to see if anyone remembered my grandad, and the replies I got were so moving and so numerous (one man even cut out a cartoon* he had in a very old newspaper that featured my grandad), that I suddenly said “I could write a book”, and my dad said “go on then”.
But I didn’t know where to start, and this has to be one of the most daft stories ever – I was reading Jackie Collins at the time, can’t remember which one, and Corgi were publishing her … So I got the publisher address out of the front of the book and fired off a letter: “Dear Sir/Madam, I’d love to write a book, which I think you’d be interested in. Would you tell me how to go about it, please? Thanking you in anticipiation, etc, etc …”
Well, I should never have received a reply to that letter, I didn’t even enclose a stamped, addressed envelope. It should have gone straight in the bin, once everyone had had a jolly good laugh about it. But I did receive a reply and I wish I’d kept it. A lovely lady took the time to write me a personal letter, suggesting I enrol in a writing class, get hold of Writers’ & Artists’ Yearbook, join a local writers’ group, and maybe get a few stories or articles under my belt.
And so I did. I enrolled on the then Successful Writers correspondence school from David & Charles (before they became successful publishers). I spent hours pouring over the Writers’ & Artists’ Yearbook at the library and bought their previous year’s copy from them. I joined the then Birmingham Writers’ Group. And in 1985, following a rather horrid manuscript reading (a few BWG members, for some reason, thought you had to serve a 20 year apprenticeship, that you couldn’t just come along one day and decide to be a writer, it wasn’t fair to those that had been writing for years), I had my first short story published. (The wanting to write story is repeated on this same archive post.)
I put my mind to it and I did it.
Why can’t I do that now?
Anyway, the rest, as they say, is history, and for those that don’t already know the story of how I became a non-fiction writer, ask for it and I’ll provide it in another post.
How was it for you? How did you start? When did you know you wanted to be a writer?
*Oh, and I still have the cartoon. I may scan it one of the days and post it as a pic.