I am a strong believer in fate. I believe that things happen for a reason and I believe that you should take what life throws at you and turn it into a positive. This is exactly what happened to me pretty much two years ago this month.
I am not your stereotypical writer. I haven’t been writing stories since I was knee high and I haven’t read all of the classic stories that, probably, I should have. I didn’t grow up dreaming of being an author, or a journalist, or anything writing related actually. I grew up wanting to be a physiotherapist, and then later, a dancer. I left school, went to college and received a diploma in performing arts. I then secured a place at University and was set to train and become a dance teacher. A couple of months before starting the course I realised it wasn’t what I wanted to do; it wasn’t my dream. I didn’t know what my dream was, but I knew it wasn’t that. So I cancelled my place and cancelled my student loan.
But then it dawned on me – what do I do now?
I flitted between lots of office and retail jobs, never really feeling fully at home. I hadn’t yet found my ‘place’. In 2006 I fell pregnant and had to re-think work. I couldn’t continue where I was and my husband told me I could stay at home. Up until now, I had played about with some words and written half of what I now realise was a crime novel. But I had no direction or skill, I just wrote what was in my head. It became stagnant and I didn’t know how to rescue it, so it went into a drawer with some other random pieces of paper with words scattered all over them but no consistency. I left it for another year or so before I wrote anything else.
And so to keep my brain active, during my pregnancy I trained as a beauty therapist and when LO was 6 months old, I started a mobile beauty therapist business. I didn’t earn much and only had a handful of people interested, but it got me out the house and kept my brain ticking over. But it still wasn’t ‘it’ and after only 18 months, I stopped. I moved house, moved area and never started it up again.
So here I was, in a new town an hour and a half away from all my friends and family. My husband was working everyday and I had made no new friends. Whenever LO napped, I began to jot things down again. It never developed into anything and will probably end up staying in the folder with everything else, but it kept me going.
In February 2010, I was invited to a clairvoyant evening at my local pub. My husband and I had made friends with the landlord and landlady there (they have since become very good friends and were usher and bridesmaid at our wedding last year!) and so I was happy to go along and have a reading. This is where my writing life changed forever.
Now, I am as sceptical as you get with mediums, clairvoyants etc, so I went there purely to have an evening out with a friend and see what all the fuss was about. I’d never had a reading before so was intrigued as to how they worked. I never expected to believe what she said to me. A few things she told me were quite vague and could have applied to anyone, so I was not convinced. But then she said something to me that made me sit up and listen. She said to me that the ‘thing’ I had been thinking about doing for a while, I should do it because it would be worthwhile and I would do well at it. The only ‘thing’ that had been on my mind was to find a course to learn how to write properly. Some may say that this, too, was a vague comment, and you may be right, but personally to me at that time in my life as soon as she said those words, it meant only one thing.
The following day I signed up to a novel writing course with the London School of Journalism.
Since then, in two years, I have completed the course, enrolled with the Romantic Novelists’ Association on their New Writer’s Scheme twice, completed my first full length novel and sent it off to a publisher, started working on my second novel, entered a few competitions, attended numerous writing events and spent 17 months on the ChocLit tasting panel.
And for the first time, I feel I have found my true passion. I am home.