Most people have a tale to tell about how they got started. I don’t mean with the actual writing – I think it’s something most of us have always done. I mean how we ever got to think we might be published.
For some it is through a writing group or a course or maybe from a writing holiday where they are inspired by a particularly good writing tutor.
I’ve never belonged to a writing group and I’ve never been on a writing holiday but I always wanted to be a writer and my trigger was the right person saying the right thing to me at the right time.
I’ve just ordered Claire Rayner’s autobiography, “How Did I Get Here From There” and you know if I should thank anyone for helping me at the start it should be Claire.
As a teenager with a burning and desperate desire to write I didn’t know how to start or even if it was worth trying. I had a poem published in a school magazine and a sketch what I wrote (always wanted to say that) was used in a school production.
It was a comedy sketch and to my amazement it made people laugh. Never mind that I was so nervous I got my lines wrong during one of the performances.
Anyway, back to Claire. She was the agony aunt on the Sun newspaper at the time and I wrote to her enclosing a stamped addressed envelope and asked for her advice.
She wrote me a lovely letter in reply and I wish I’d kept it, but her advice was to get a copy of the Writers’ and Artists’ Yearbook. I had no idea such a thing existed. Our library had one current copy which as far as I remember you weren’t allowed to take out, but they also had the previous year’s edition which could be borrowed and so my mum put in for it for me.
It wasn’t so much Claire’s advice as the fact she didn’t write back and say, “Don’t be such an idiot, people like you don’t become writers. Get your head out of the clouds and take a reality check.”
The book came in dog-eared and well used and oh what a treasure it was. I’ve bought my own copies since – not every year, but every now and then and I still get the same feeling of anticipation and hope when I open it.
My parents never doubted me, but I always thought they might be biased and they were a bit inclined towards having their heads in the clouds as well. To have someone like Claire Rayner offer advice and wish me luck – well . . .
It occurred to me this morning that when I started writing, I used to write a lot about my hopes and dreams and if I wanted to vent my spleen I let rip in a good old fashioned confession story (I lost count of the number of times my poor long suffering husband said to me, “You were angry with me when you wrote this weren’t you . . ?”)
These days I seem to write more about my feelings and the past and as I grow older, more subjects become taboo for me because it’s happened too many times that something I have written about has later come true. But I’m in a gloomy mood; it hasn’t been a particularly good week for one reason and another - the only good thing I can say about it is that it could have been worse!
But today isn’t a day for feeling glum. I’m off out later – my eldest granddaughter will be two tomorrow and it’s her birthday party today.
Anyway I was just wondering who or what did it for you?