As soon as I could hold a pencil, and perhaps before, I was making up stories. The drips of condensation racing down the window panes were friends running side by side, joining together in school, a pool on the window-sill; my marbles had names (I hadn't lost them then) and would act out plays for me on the bedroom carpet; the invisible horse I rode had a back-story and I was a bare-back circus rider in a glamorous costume with red ostrich feathers.
I sent one of my stories to Enid Blyton when I was about nine. I was a great fan of the Famous Five and sent my imitation for review. Enid Blyton was gracious enough to reply and say that my story was 'quite good' or some such faint praise. I didn't keep the letter.
My journey to Farnham Girls Grammar School involved a bus and train followed by a walk. My friends used to indulge me on the way and listen to the stories I had written, sometimes serialised. These were 'racy' I am told, although I remember nothing about them and have no examples. But I do know I was heavily into Mickey Spillane, so perhaps that was the inspiration.
My grammar school education and secretarial training have stood me in good stead for a life of writing. I always wanted to scribble something. (At my most delinquent stage this was crystallised into witticisms in the style now known as graffiti.) For twenty years I wrote a newsletter for our church, articles for magazines, edited the local Wildlife Trust magazine, was a correspondent for the local paper and editor for a community magazine. It was exciting to be taken seriously in my mid-forties and get a job producing publications for the Rural Community Council. All these roles developed my writing skills and taught me more about punctuation and grammar. But I longed to write from my soul and went on a community education Creative Writing Course which launched me into a frenzy of scribbling.
In 2012 a Theatre Orchard writing initiative called Pens in Pubs created a huge hook from which I have been unable to escape. In 2013 I joined a writers' group in Weston-Super-Mare and my fate was sealed. At last I have been motivated to complete my novel The Disclaimer and to carry on scribbling. One of my short stories was short-listed in the Somerset Short Story Competition 2013 so I felt obliged to test myself again in 2014. I entered two stories and to my delight one was commended and one received the third prize.
It's the only way. You've got to be in it to win it. And if you don't win anything, you can console yourself with the thought that the judging is all subjective. At least you will have written something you think worthwhile, and made sure you checked it through for errors.
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