Thursday 17 October 2019

Twelve years of Writing – So much more that the pursuit of publication.

The other day I was talking to one of my bestet-writrey friends, who said she’d read somewhere that it takes writers ten years to really hone their writing skills. Then she asks how long I’ve been writing for. This inspired me to find out, so I went back and looked in my archived files on my external hard drive, and unearthed the first piece of writing I ever did. The 351 word extract, which went on to become my first novel. The date the file was created; 28th April 2007.

Which means I‘ve been writing for over twelve years. Just over a quarter of my life. This realisation hit with a much more depressing thought, that I’m STILL NOT PUBLISHED YET! But then it got me thinking about writing has changed my life and the positive impact it has had on not just me but my whole family.

When I started writing we had ONE bookcase with only TWO shelves of books, and I hardly read anything at all, as I was too deterred by the difficulties caused by my dyslexia. Writing is intractability linked with reading, so I became a reader, but don’t ask me how many bookcases I’ve got now as it’d morph into a blog of its own! This new found love of reading has had a huge impact on my children who were only approaching their 3rd and 1st birthdays when I first picked up a pen. As a result of my rekindled love of reading, and stuffing the house full of books, by kids children who were on the schools dyslexia watch list became avid readers with reading ages well above their actual ages.

Another positive influence in the children which helped them foster a love of reading is being exposed to writers and illustrators. By attending author events, meeting their literary icons, and being able to contact them via social media, it’s made the children feel as if they have a personal relationship with the creators of their favourite books, and that they are championing them. This is something that would never have happened prior to me writing as I was totally against social media and only ever set up the accounts for writing.

However I think one of the most positive things my writing has had, is that my children have grown up watching me work every day, striving to get my writing the best it can be and to get published. Over the years they’ve seen the highs; the competitions, long-listings, short-listings, wins, the signing with an agent, and getting a contact with a publisher. But they’ve seen the lows, the rejections, the losing the agent and contact through no fault of my own. But they’ve witnessed me, dusting myself off and getting up and continuing, to improve my writing, doing courses, and continuing to submit. In an age of sticker charts, numerous certificates from school for the smallest achievements, I believe that my kids watching me struggle, getting knocked back and trying gain is good for them, as it shows not everything gets instant gratification.

Writing effects every aspect of my family’s life, from the places we visit on holidays and trips out, to how we build our chicken house (a cross between Baba Yagga’s house and David Melling’s bird house doodles) , to what scarecrows we make for the allotment (The Gruffalo and half the cast of The Wizard of Oz).

However the by far the most unexpected and by-product of writing is the people I’ve met. Children’s writers, illustrators, and professionals; booksellers, agents and editors are some of the loveliest people you are ever likely to meet. In the eleven years since I first picked up a pen, I’ve had the pleasure of meeting many like minded p[people, who all help one another and are generous with their time, empathy and honesty. I really think I’ve found not only my tribe but some of my closest friends.

So pushing the pursuit to publication to one side, I can definite say that writing has been and still is a very positive experience, and I wouldn’t change it for the world.