In The Plotting Shed

In The Plotting Shed
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Tuesday, 19 January 2016

Simple steps to heaven

I was asked to write an article for a friend's future on-line healthy living magazine, - link to follow as soon as available. She asked me to talk about how I got into writing. I had a bit of a think and wrote this:

Losing myself in a good book has got me through many a sticky time and given me escape from my own life at the flick of a page. I hadn't been reading long when I realised that I wanted to play more of a role in this make believe world; I wanted to create some of my own.
Life had other ideas and a lot of living got in the way before I finally settled down and got serious about this life-long dream. And it was so simple really.
One day, feeling very low, I decided I had to start doing something for myself. I had been giving and giving and giving and had nothing left. I felt empty and quite desolate. It wouldn't do. Something had to shift. I started by getting a notebook and an ordinary biro and putting it next to my bed. I wrote before I went to sleep and before I got up.
Nothing revolutionary happened. Nothing I noticed anyway, but it felt good. Over time, this daily practice, which took only a couple of minutes, started to change, evolve. My sentences became clearer, more coherent, more interesting to read back. Then, gradually, ideas began to emerge. Ideas for stories, for make-believe.
Instead of writing about who had annoyed me that day, or the food I'd eaten or family ailments, some abstract ideas about deeper issues appeared on those pages. I filled a whole journal, then another.
Those minutes extended; they became the most important minutes of my day. The stack of journals piled up, covered in scrawl, next to my bed. Some of the ideas became insistent and I transferred them to my computer. I opened a folder there and called it 'Novels'. That folder has many hundreds of files now. Research files, ideas files, random thoughts files, story files - of make believe.
I joined a website for aspiring writers and worked hard for three years without a break, reviewing other people's work in all possible genres, and having mine anonymously reviewed. I learnt a lot. I learned the difference between writing and good writing. To my amazement, all my stories made it into the top ten of the website charts. I made friends. Lots of friends, friends who loved writing as much as I did. Kindred spirits with whom I still share what I now feel privileged to call my work, my passion.
One of them encouraged me to try self-publishing. Four years ago I went public and put The Twisted Vine out on Amazon as an ebook. My goodness, I felt naked and vulnerable! The public can be harsh critics but they can also be wonderfully generous and the great reviews I got lifted me sky high. On the strength of the success of The Twisted Vine I wrote three more books over the next three years. They have sold in thousands and I now make a modest living from my fictional world of make-believe.
Believe in yourself. Take that first step. Follow your passion. Give it time to grow while your confidence builds. Follow that first step with another. Go at a walking pace if it feels right - or just run for the hell of it.
Heaven awaits.

 

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