Thanks, Shirley, for inviting me as a guest blogger.
I am a Scottish writer of contemporary novels, based in Edinburgh. Although I also write short stories, generally my ideas lend themselves to works of book length, and I find it difficult to downsize.
I underwent several metamorphoses before becoming a full time writer. For a long time, I worked in the NHS, initially as a dietitian, then as a health promoter. During those years I wrote as a hobby but was never caught up enough in it to work on something for more than a couple of hours at a time. My first novel, Seychelles Song, was rejected by Mills & Boon as not being up to the high standard their readers expect. In it I committed the cardinal error of having the heroine make a move on the hero when they found themselves sharing a bed. And apparently the setting dominated the plot. We live and learn! I would cringe if anyone were to read this book now….
In 2006 we decided to move to France for several years. As I was unlikely to find paid work there because of my limited French, I knew I’d have more time for writing. What I didn’t know was that we would end up homeschooling our son…. a story in itself and one which prompted the writing of various articles. Several months before we left Edinburgh, during a Saturday afternoon at the gym, I found myself on the treadmill, listening to Martha Reeves and the Vandellas singing Dancing in the Street, and thinking: I’ll have a go at becoming a serious writer.
I completed my second novel, Chergui’s Child, while we were in France. I also wrote the first draft of what has become my debut novel, Water’s Edge, e-published by ThornBerry Publishing in April 2013.
In terms of possessing a writing identity, it wasn’t until we were halfway through our time in Grenoble that I found myself able to tell people I was a writer, without wrestling with my internal critic, which would say: A writer? Who are you trying to kid?
When we returned to the UK, I studied for a Masters in Creative Writing which I attained in 2010. Around that time, I began blogging: Papillon – any thoughts rattling around my head, and Letters from Bakhtin blog – about a Russian cat who aspires to be a writer. In 2011 I set up a small editing business, Choice Words Editing, being particularly interested in working for non-native English speaking clients.
Writing is something I have to do. There’s definitely a sense of deprivation if, for some reason, I can’t write, though this rarely happens. If I’m away from home for one night even, my laptop accompanies me. We have done a fair bit of travelling in our Renault Trafic van and as soon as the scenery becomes dull, or darkness falls, I am writing or editing away on my laptop. On a perpetual effort to lose weight, I write or edit with my laptop perched on the handlebars of my exercise bike. Eccentric, or what?
Writing is a space I can go to that is completely mine, in which I have total control: it’s not dependent on weather, colleagues, money. Additionally, as I tend to set my novels in ‘foreign’ countries, I have the chance to escape to a sunny climate when those around me are enduring yet another blustery, wet, Edinburgh day.
I am currently completing a rewrite of Chergui’s Child which I hope to submit soon. My editing guide: Words’Worth – a fiction writer’s guide to serious editing will be published by ThornBerry Publishing in July 2013, and will be available in paperback from Amazon.
The task for me – as well as continuing to write novels – is to learn how to promote/market my work, something publishers are far less involved in now. I thought that becoming published was the final summit. How naive!
If any author would like to ‘guest’ on this blog, then please contact me – firstname.lastname@example.org and we can discuss it further.