Becoming a Writer
Two early memories: looking out of a plane window at the clouds and, yearning to become a writer. Of course, I loved reading and libraries, bookshops, the smell of books, the different worlds. I recall always having a book to hand and feeling dismayed whenever I had to engage in real life.
My early childhood was spent abroad. Upon leaving school, I obtained secretarial skills and became a temp, supplementing this with part-time evening and weekend jobs in the catering and hotel industry before becoming airline crew. The dream to be a writer never disappeared though. I wish I'd kept a diary and taken more photos during my flying years. Every time I stumbled across a writing competition I thought about entering. But I didn't. I read a lot. I subscribed to an online writing course, but didn't complete it. The dream ebbed and flowed.
It was watching how quickly my children grew (one moment it seemed they were babies, then they crawled, walked, spoke, became their own little people) that made me realise how quickly time passes. I realised that if I didn't follow my heart, that if I didn't immerse myself in writing, that I would always regret it. It was a part of me that had lain dormant for too long and, the lesson I've learned and hope to teach my children is that they should be true to themselves wherever possible.
In 2009, I decided to 'become a writer.' I had no idea what to do, other than to write. And so I did. I set myself a daily word count which I stuck to (as much as possible) and kept pushing myself. I immersed myself in the writing world: local creative writing classes, literary festivals, talks, meet-the-author events. I read. Even more. Slowly, I began to learn. I learned that although my early attempts were bad, (OK – appalling), that it didn't matter because I didn't need to show them to anyone. Even if someone, somehow, mysteriously stumbled across my work, they wouldn't bother to read very far. Once I'd managed to get rid of the fear of 'someone' laughing at the futility of my efforts, I felt free.
In 2014, I joined the Faber Academy 'Writing a Novel' course, thanks to the kindness of parents – mine and my husband's – who provided a lot of childcare. I wrote about a damaged woman: a character who'd been hanging around in my subconscious for a while; someone who came to me when I once changed out of uniform before travelling on public transport. I felt a sense of retuning to 'anonymity' and I began to think about the personas behind the public faces. I received so much encouragement and advice from our tutor and the group at Faber.
I am now lucky enough to be represented by a wonderful and insightful agent and my novel has found its home with an amazing imprint, Wildfire at Headline. So... in March 2018, roughly nine years after I decided to take writing seriously, The Perfect Girlfriend will become a 'real' book.
I owe thanks to so many people, including friends and family who have supported and taught me along the way and who kept me 'up' during the inevitable setbacks and frustrations. Everything has been a valuable experience and I feel as though everything so far has lead up to this - from my early days of people-watching as I waited on tables, through to gaining secretarial skills and my travel experiences. As I write my next novel, I feel incredibly grateful to have been given this opportunity.
At the moment, I alternate between excitement, joy, gratitude and fear. I hope, really hope, that readers will enjoy the novel as much as I did writing it. I haven't forgotten my early memory of looking out of a plane window. The airline world that I loved so much is there in my book; it is the world of my characters.