My writing story (so far)

I’m pretty sure almost all writers were told repeatedly at some point in their life that writing isn’t a real job. I can’t remember exactly when I started to believe that, but before I started applying for university, I’d given up on wanting to be a writer and decided that forensic psychology was definitely my career of choice (narrator voice: it was not her career of choice).

After it dawned on me that a career in forensic psychology would involve working for law enforcement in some capacity, I left the course I was on before I got into too much debt for no good reason. After various jobs and a lot of indecision and discontent, I applied for a course in media, specialising in writing and directing for film and television. I had none of the required qualifications, but I submitted a bunch of short stories with my application, sat an interview, and got in. It was great for a few months, but due to being just on the wrong side of an arbitrary cut-off date that would’ve enabled me to get a full student loan had I been on the right side of it, I couldn’t afford to stay. My personal tutor told me to keep writing though. And I did.

We’re going to skip ahead a lot of years now. Through the part where I went to college for photography and then worked as a photographer, taught photography and ran a studio. Through the part where I worked in various areas of tech, marketing and communications. Through the part where did uni online to get a certificate of higher education in psychology, which I seriously doubt I’m ever going to use for anything job-related, but psychology felt like a loose end that I needed to tie up.

And I kept writing. I wrote blog posts, articles, educational resources, marketing copy, corporate training material, poetry, creative non-fiction, short stories…I wrote. Some of the creative non-fiction and poetry ended up in publications on Medium, which I was using a lot back then but don’t use at all anymore. Looking back, I can see that I had a huge need to prove to myself that I was doing something with my writing beyond posting it on my own blog and social media places, which I was also doing.

At the end of 2016, when I was thirty-five, I had a huge now-or-never moment. It was something to do with upheaval, something to do with loss, some kind of perfect storm or mental breakdown or premature mid-life crisis. I realised I had to actually Do Writing Now. I couldn’t just talk about it forever as something I would do one day or keep making half-assed attempts to tick enough boxes to feel like I wasn’t entirely wasting my time and energy on something that would never be A Real Job. So I dedicated myself to it. I read endlessly. I studied. I did online courses. And I wrote.

During 2017, I wrote a lot of flash fiction. If you’re not familiar with that term, it means short stories with a maximum length of about a thousand words. Some of those stories have been published in online lit mags because I thought that was absolutely necessary if I wanted to Do Writing. I’m not saying it wasn’t fun or good experience, but it wasn’t and isn’t necessary. For me. I’m not telling anyone else what they should or shouldn’t do, because we’re all on different paths and I’m not here to draw a map for yours.

Between 2017 and 2019, I wrote two novellas and a novel, because studying how to write books was pointless without actually writing books. I took this an opportunity to write the stories that were difficult to categorise and difficult to market, but that I was in love with, because I didn’t actually have to categorise or market them (you can download them for free from the homepage of this site or read them on Wattpad if you like).

During that time, from the beginning of 2017 until about half way through 2019, I took part in one NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month in November) and a bunch of Camp NaNoWriMos (April and July writing events). I love a good deadline and I work (compulsively) well under pressure. Plus, there’s a truly beautiful community spirit around those events and few things in life are as delicious to me as riding the wave of collective enthusiasm among creative communities.

I continued to write creative non-fiction and poetry too, none of which is online anymore because, for reasons that still completely elude me, I suddenly felt wildly uncomfortable about it being on the internet. I haven’t felt inspired to write in that direction so much since I’ve been focusing more on fiction, but I still have all those pieces safely stored and backed up because…because. I wrote them and they matter to me.

Around June 2019, I figured it was time to get serious. I mean, serious-serious. Like, actually-time-to-work-towards-publication serious. A concept for a book trilogy arrived in my head, so I spent a few weeks letting it pour out into the computer to see if it stuck. And it did. It’s easily categorisable, therefore it’s more marketable than anything else I’ve written. The wonderful thing is, it just happened that way. I didn’t craft the idea based around a genre. If you’d told me a year ago that I’d be writing science fiction, I would not have believed you. But here I am, with the with the first draft of the first book of a neo(n)-noir cyberpunk trilogy written during NaNoWriMo 2019 and an outline for the next two books. So, it’s on.

I know I’m not saying much here about my current project. It’s not because I’m being cagey or mysterious. I don’t think I’d know how to be either of those things, even if I wanted to. It’s because my next post is going to be all about it! If you’d like to be notified of my new posts by email, there’s a widget in the sidebar where you can subscribe. Or if you’re a WordPress.com user and you’d rather read my posts in your WordPress Reader, click the little Follow tab at the bottom right.

If you’d like to tell me about your writing journey, share a laugh and an eye-roll over the idea that writing isn’t a job, or just say hello, you’re very welcome to leave a comment below. Thanks for reading and I hope you come back soon ❤

11 thoughts on “My writing story (so far)

  1. I started to blog again regularly-ish this year, as well as keeping a private journal. I’ve decided that next year will be the start of me putting myself out there in the public eye more, and saying “I’m fecking awesome, you should check me out!”

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It’s lovely to see you blogging again too! Also, I’m really happy to hear your plans for next year. I feel like 2019 was a weird figuring-stuff-out hermit kind of year for a lot of people (it definitely was for me) and it makes my heart sing to see amazing people opening up their worlds again ❤

      Like

  2. It’s spooky how closely our paths parallel. My “forensic psychology” was music education. Back then, I never even considered writing as a legitimate path because I literally had it drilled into my head that creative endeavors were akin to living under a bridge. Still, we made it anyway, and here we are, living creative lives and fighting for a way to make it pay the bills.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. As much as it pisses me off to have taken this long to fully understand that yes, I get to actually be a writer, I’m sort of happy that I had all the wild and varied life experience that I had up until this point. Even the mad shit, the reckless abandon, the misspent youth, the crazy decisions, it’s all fed into what I’m writing now and I’m grateful for it. I still think it’s bullshit that creative work is so utterly demeaned and devalued though.

      I saw something on…shit, I can’t remember, Twitter maybe? Or someone’s blog? About how writing is one of those jobs where your age doesn’t matter in the slightest, how you can absolutely start being a writer at literally any point in your life and it doesn’t work against you at all, how it’s never something you’re too old to do. Sometimes I need to hear that!

      Like

  3. I loved to read, so I became a journalist, then a sub-editor. But there is no glory in it! If you do your job well, no one notices. So I moved more to writing and editing and I write a lot for work (also some copywriting) so I sort of thought I was “doing it”. But since I’ve been making more serious forays into fiction, I realised it’s not the same at all. Not that it doesn’t help of course.
    I think it’s been hugely valuable because, unlike some other newer fiction writers, I don’t have such a fear of hitting ‘publish’ or people reading my work. I’ve had bylines on stuff for 20 years. No biggie. I know some people really struggle with this. And, obvs. for my fiction, I have more anxious-feelings about it!
    In 2020 I want to dedicate six months to getting a really good first draft of my novel done. Luckily, life circumstances mean I think I can actually do this. It’s still hard to get over those ‘upper limits’ but I’m going to do my best to smash on through! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. “I don’t have such a fear of hitting ‘publish’ or people reading my work”

      I read a blog post a while back by Dean Wesley Smith about book-as-event and how seeing every single book as a huge deal with massive emotional involvement etc was counterproductive (I’m paraphrasing, but that was the gist of it). It, along with a lot of other things he says about writing and publishing, rang very true.

      So much writing-related stuff online is like “everything has to be perfect and you have to make exactly the right decisions about everything at every step of the way and you must spend a shitload of money on everything you do ever or you’re going to destroy the entire industry and completely humiliate yourself and your career will be over before it even starts etc etc” and it’s deeply off-putting. Honestly, in some cases, it reads like nothing more than anxious financial gate-keeping by violently insecure people who can’t cope with the evolution of an industry.

      The more I seek out people whose approach is more focused around actually just writing and getting your stuff out there in whatever way you choose to do that, the less pressure I feel about it. I still have this little niggle in the back of my mind that there’s another way, some form of self-publishing that isn’t currently mainstream, something that’s starting to happen at the moment but isn’t quite here yet. I have no attachment to being able to declare myself An Author for the validation. I just want to write, share my writing, and afford to buy food 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Oh, don’t get me wrong. I also crave the validation! heh. But I guess if I’m honest, I am also reasonably confident and brave about my work. Gosh it’s quite hard to say that. Bloody conditioning. 😉

    Like

    1. It feels like we’re not ‘supposed’ to be confident at all, like there’s only filled with self-doubt or insanely arrogant, as if there’s nothing in between (which is ridiculous).

      A really horrible thing I keep seeing (mostly from people who stand to profit from writers desperately seeking something to assuage their fears) is the idea that if you aren’t massively insecure, then you’re so arrogant that you can’t see how embarrassingly bad your writing is. I don’t think I realised how toxic this industry could be until quite recently. Now I’m seeing that toxicity everywhere and it’s gross.

      So seeing people not feeling like total crap about what they write is lovely and very reassuring 😍

      Like

      1. That is such a good point. I hadn’t really thought about it. I tend to swing from feeling “a bit shit” to worrying I am overweeningly arrogant. But yes! Of course! There is a few degrees in between that. Wow. I’m going to think about that a bit more. This is never talked about?!

        Liked by 1 person

        1. It seems to be very wrapped up in the idea that to avoid completely humiliating yourself and bringing shame upon ‘real’ writers everywhere, you must pay ££thousands to a selection of different editors, designers etc before you dare to self-publish (basically, the only people whose voices deserve to be heard are people who already have lots of money). Or at least that’s the context in which I’ve encountered it most often.

          I guess the best way to manipulate people into forking out masses of cash they can’t afford to spend is, “Everyone except you can see that you’re a heap of shit…now, you don’t want the whole world laughing at you, do you?”

          It’s funny because I don’t think I’ve ever spoken to an arrogant writer in my life. I’m sure they exist, but most writers I know are somewhere between “Meh, I’m probably OK and I’m working on getting better” and “I probably suck, but I’m working on getting better.”

          I guess other industries have the same kind of toxicity too. This is just the one I’ve been immersed in for the last wee while, so I’m noticing it more.

          Like

Join the conversation

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.