A Writer on Writing

MY JOURNEY AS A WRITER.

I can still recall with vivid detail the reaction of my father when, at the tender age of ten, I said “Daddy I want to be a writer.” He took it as his cue to give me a pep talk about the importance of education. It came as no surprise that eight years later I began my degree in English Literature. Though all writers begin life as avid readers and it was my mother who passed on her passion for books; she had enrolled me in the local library at the age of three. One of my earliest childhood memories is sitting on the floor beside the parents’ collection bookshelves and leaving the library with books just like my mother. I have loved the smell of libraries ever since.

Rose Garden Retiro In the Rose Garden Retiro Park, Madrid.

I moved to Spain initially for a nine-month contract to teach English as a foreign language. Finding I had a natural flair with children, I worked in primary foreign language teaching, then in its infancy in Spain. I loved being in the classroom and my creativity wove itself into lesson planning and material design. This lead to giving talks at EFL conferences which in turn lead to working on a freelance basis for EFL publishers including OUP, Spain’s largest Educational Publisher Santillana and to my first publication in Germany Playground One; an EFL textbook for children. I then went on to work on team collaboration with Santillana on another series for four and five year olds called Playground Fun. It was a best seller in Spain, South America, Mexico and used as a textbook for young Spanish speakers in the States.   I consider this period to be my writer’s apprenticeship.

I returned home to Edinburgh in May 2008, never imagining I would ever settle. The move has been positive; change is difficult and often cathartic. Spain is a country, which evokes passions, forces reactions, stimulating the writer to try and capture the essence of these sensations. I have found rising to this challenge easier through the prism of distance.

Peter Mayle’s “Toujours Provance” inspired me to write something similar about my life in Rioja, Spain’s wine region where I lived for over twenty years. Extracts from this book can be found on the blog under the categories, food, or travel. This book and the first novel were the seeds of my current project, a food crime fusion.

I wrote my first novel in the autumn after I finally managed to get out of a difficult and unhappy marriage. It was too autobiographical, however, it did serve as catharsis and demonstrated teaching and writing did not work for me. It is a draining profession; mentally, physically and emotionally.   I finally gave up teaching in 2011.

Since then, I have translated all my poetry, my collection now in both English and Spanish. Written a series of my eco fairy tales children’s stories with an ecological theme. I have completed the first novel in my cooking detective series, set in Rioja, and have written the first draft of novel two in the series set here in Edinburgh’s Port, Leith – the Shore area now famous for its restaurants. In August 2013, I independently published on Amazon for Kindle my first modern fairy story – Shoeless Cinderella and the Paparazzi. http://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B00EBUTMY0

In March 2009, I lost my beloved father who I had returned home to look after. In November that year I began volunteering on The Bugle a quarterly magazine run by Bethany Christian Trust a charitable organisation that helps homeless and vulnerable people. I helped others structure and edit their articles but also wrote for the magazine. Writing those short articles, seeing my name in print again put me back in touch with my writing self, which was emancipating.

Although, extremely sceptical at first, my growing knowledge of the digital era is making me feel optimistic. We are in a new era, digital is no longer an option; it has become part of the fabric of our everyday life. It is the first era transition in world history that is truly global in its outreach. I began attending workshops and conference on digital promotion, becoming a convert, as my awareness increased of digital’s amazing potential. Self-promotion is very hard work; but carving out life as a writer has never been easy but the sense of being in control of your work is an empowering experience.

I feel the more I learn, the less I know, but I find this inspiring and motivating; I can put my work out there. My years working in language education taught me learning keeps you young, and unlike many of my contemporaries who feel stagnant and see retirement goalposts moved too far away, I feel I am coming into my own, with projects, ideas and energy to continue enjoying and exploring my writers journey.

I don’t know where it will take me but I have learned when I write I am content. My drafts are my sculptors clay, so I can chisel, chip, polish, and reinvent my plot, my words, my meaning. When it goes well it is wonderful, and when I am down it has been my anchor in emotional storms. For a writer there is nothing worse than not writing. Fortunately, I have never suffered from writers block. I tend to experience the opposite, ideas overload with not enough time to develop them all. Without doubt, I suffer when I don’t write, providing motivation to keep on writing.

 

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One Response to A Writer on Writing

  1. Beautifully said! So sorry for the loss of your father… a very uplifting piece in spite of the hardships and struggles of yearning for enough time to do what we are called to do. I’ve never had writer’s block either… just wish there were time to get all the ideas woven into stories and written down. So many epic narratives and characters are just with me and have yet to be recorded… Thanks for this wonderful piece – it’s reassuring to know we are not alone in figuring it all out!

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