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 ❤