I‘ve been a creative writer for the whole of my adult life, with my first published poem appearing in 1984, when I was eighteen years old. It wasn’t great. To be honest, neither were the next few, but gradually they got better, more of them were published and more people seemed to enjoy them – including, eventually, me. So I kept writing – through university, and then through a diverse series of jobs which allowed me to expand into magazine journalism, short fiction, comic scripts, book reviews and even rules supplements for tabletop wargames.
And then I took a ten-year break from writing while I dedicated myself to being a parent. I know many people find it perfectly easy to do both at the same time, but not me. It wasn’t just the tiredness and the lack of free time which stopped me though, it was also the loss of the need to write. Creative writing – and in particular, poetry – had always been the way I examined and processed my life and my feelings, and how I communicated these things to other people. But that’s not how children communicate, so for ten years I became a talker, not a writer.
At the point when my youngest child began to spend full days at school, I finally found myself with enough time for writing once more. But I’d forgotten how, and I’d forgotten why I needed to. And in order to relearn these things, I started to blog. I was living in Brazil at the time, and although the blog was primarily for the benefit of friends and family back home, it was also there to remind me how to write.
After two years, I was ready to move on. When my eldest son was much younger, I’d promised to write him a book and it seemed like the perfect time to fulfil my promise. But when I’d made the promise he was reading books filled with pictures and single sentences. Now he was reading anything and everything. ‘I like space,’ he told me. ‘And pirates.’
And so I set off on the journey to becoming a novelist. Ten years later, I was done. And what I had to show for it was a trilogy of sci-fi novels which do, in fact, include space and pirates. My son has read them and approves. And by now, quite a few other people have read them as well – many of them approve, too.
In the meantime, I had returned to the UK and now live in Cambridge, where I’ve become an active member of the Angles Writing Group. This is a wonderful and talented collection of writers who have been kind enough to show me just how unpolished those first drafts of my novels were, helped to turn them into something much better, and have allowed me to do something I’d never truly done before in the whole of my writing carer – namely, work with others. Apparently, writing doesn’t always have to be done alone, between midnight and four, in a miserably cold room at the top of the house. How about that?
After moving on from writing novels, I briefly wandered into the curious world of flash fiction, but after two years and very little success, I realised that all I really wanted to do was go back to writing poetry. So this is what I did. And now it’s all I do. And I’m very happy doing it.