So you want to be a writer?
I am starting this blog in celebration of my second self published book, the historical novel ‘Moonshadow’. I thought that the circumstances that led me to become a writer and now an author might be of interest to those about to take that life changing first step.
As the blog progresses I will point out some of the lessons and pitfalls that I have encountered along the way in the hope that you may profit from them.
Halfway through a 500 mile walk across Northern Spain I sat alone by an ancient stone cross and made the decision that I really wanted to be a writer.
I am not certain when exactly I first heard about the ‘Camino de Santiago’, the ancient pilgrim way across northern Spain, but, as soon as I read about it, I knew that it was something I wanted to do. Then, when I discovered that some 700 years earlier an ancestor had undertaken the same pilgrimage, I knew I had to do it!
It was an opportunity to have the space and time to think through what I wanted to do with the next stage of my life. Having retired I needed to set myself some new goals and challenges rather than just vegetate and reminisce.
I had always had an inclination to write but my business career had involved the continual writing of dry factual reports and presentations and pushed any creative writing into the background.
Now on this magical pilgrimage, with the extraordinary relationship with an ancient ancestors inspiring me, I started to envisage stories and situations that it would be fun to write about and might perhaps appeal to other people. Gradually, as I walked, these ideas strengthened and expanded until I was suddenly quite certain that writing was, for me, the way forward.
Arriving home my next step was to try and get some guidance on creative writing skills. I had the good fortune to come across ‘The Arvon Trust’. I was intrigued by their unique style, remote locations and their wide range of week long courses. From their brochure I picked the aptly named ‘Starting to Write’ course at their Shropshire centre in Clun, John Osborne’s former home.
The course was perfect. It was both instructional and inspirational, with first class tutors and a great bunch of students. I left fired up with the enthusiasm to write something. Anything!
The first task turned out to be editing and publishing rather than writing. I had volunteered, at the Arvon course, to produce an anthology of the best pieces of poetry and prose produced by the students and tutors. It took a lot of time and energy to persuade everyone to submit their pieces but I finally designed, produced and self published the anthology. I learned a lot about the importance of proofreading and the difficulties of self publishing on a home computer. But I was rewarded by the appreciation of the contributors at seeing their work in print.
My second task also turned out to be less creative than I had intended but was a hugely valuable exercise that taught me a great deal, turned out to be far more successful than I had expected and gave me the incentive to go on writing.
To be continued