I’ve been writing since I was a little girl. Aged 8, I penned my first “novel”, aided by my school-friend Sharon. It was set in “Natureland”, a lovely place with lot of ponies, and just one drawback: a hand that would sometimes emerge from the ground and drag people down below. Once it was finished, I put it in an envelope, addressed it to Puffin Books and asked Mum to send it off so they might publish it. She didn’t. Instead she kept it in a drawer for posterity. I am now seeking a new agent.
Natureland was followed by a book about teaching music in primary schools, Easy Wedding Planner about how to have a big white wedding without breaking the bank and Freedom from Loneliness, which was a mix of personal story and self-help. For a few years, I wrote three different blogs, about loneliness, dating and inspiring things, and then another book, a very honest account of my 13 years of internet dating which I hope might be published one day.
Aside from the books and blog posts, I also have dozens of notebooks filled with my scribblings. For years, I did “morning pages” after reading Julia Cameron’s The Artist’s Way. For those who haven’t read it, it’s a book for blocked writers and artists. For me, it was a kind of therapy.
And now? I want to write a novel. How hard could it be?
Very hard, as it turns out. I had an idea for a children’s novel and another for an adult one. As usual, I couldn’t decide which one I wanted to write more, so I have started writing both.
Writing fiction is very different from writing non-fiction. With my non-fiction books, the material was there already: all I had to do was structure it into some kind of order and write clear sentences to get my meaning across to the reader. But fiction requires me to invent stuff. A whole new ballgame.
What I’m wondering is this: how much are writers blessed with natural talent (and if so, have I got any?) And how much can I learn to be a better writer?
So over the next few weeks, and perhaps months, I’m going to write about my efforts to become a better writer, review some of the courses that I’ve taken and the books that I’ve read.
Trying to learn new things at the age of 51 feels so positive. I doubt I’ll ever pen a bestseller, but I know I’ll have a good time trying.