When Stef asked if I would like to write a guest post for her blog I jumped at the chance. I was honoured to be asked though a little daunted when she mentioned that the theme was Inspired to Write. I had an attack of the horrors. Who inspired me to write?
I didn’t have one of those English teachers at school. They were more interested in making sure pupils didn’t attack each other rather than inspiring any of us. I can’t remember the name of my English teacher or even whether they were male or female whereas I can clearly remember my teachers for Maths, Geography, Sciences, Craft Design Technology …
No, school didn’t inspire my writing.
I wrote three books during my early adult life and whilst my family didn’t exactly discourage me from writing, I still felt isolated and alone. My chances of being a writer back then were just a pipe-dream and that pattern continued for many years.
So what changed?
In 2005, I wrote a book and, like many writers, when I finished it I decided to hide it in a drawer. I would see it now and then, take it out and flick through the pages, but I lacked the confidence to take the story forward. The thought of editing 100K words was too daunting so it would go back into the drawer.
“One day I’ll do something with that,” I kept telling myself.
The ‘one day’ arrived three years ago when my wife, Joanne, forwarded me an email from our trade-union. They were offering members a free 12-week ‘Start Writing Fiction’ course with The Open University.
We had talked about me doing courses in web design or mathematics, but she reminded me that I was always talking about being a writer and having my books published. She encouraged me to sign up and give my writing a chance. What did I have to lose?
The 12-week course led to a two-year Diploma in Creative Writing. For the first time, people were reading my work. The tutors and fellow students said nice things about my stories and it gave my confidence a boost. I felt like I was finally finding my voice.
Joanne supported me along the way by reading my work and making suggestions on how to improve the stories. She has a fantastic eye for detail and this has helped bring a fresh perspective to my writing, as well as keep my grammar in check. 😉 She is also honest with her feedback, which you need to help you improve.
Now that the courses have finished I’ve found the confidence to tackle editing a larger project and have started re-writing my novel (60% completed). I also helped create the Steel City Writers, a writing group of ex-OU students. We have self-published an e-book anthology of our short stories and poetry so my work is finally out there.
My writing group encouraged me to join the social networking world where there are many, many people trying to achieve the same goal: Write and be published. The online community spirit is good and I feel stronger because of it.
This latest stage of my writing life started because my wife INSPIRED me to stop dreaming about what might happen and start making it happen. Because of her, I have two stories out in a book we published.
I want some more.
Thank you for reading, and thanks again to Stef for inviting me to guest-post on Dodging Commas.