I used to write stories constantly. My childhood was filled with books written on folded paper, of made-up worlds and expressions of imagination. I loved story-writing assignments at school, although my teachers didn’t always love what I wrote. One called my parents to the school to discuss the ‘worryingly dark’ nature of my stories. My parents sensibly pointed out that my stories were fictional, as per the requirements of the assignments. Obviously this just inspired me to write more ‘worryingly dark’ things, because I’ve always been that kind of asshole.
I fell in love with horror in all art forms, but especially in literature. Silence of the Lambs and American Psycho felt so intensely beautiful to me, and inspired teenage scribblings that thankfully never found their way onto the internet. Being born in 1980 and not being online until the mid-1990s was a blessing in that respect.
I wrote a lot of poetry during those years too, some of which was absolutely terrible and some of which I still treasure as the foundations of my current love of creating with words.
I remember being told that ‘being a writer isn’t a real job’ by a careers advisor at school and, being terrified of having to decide what I was going to do for the rest of my life RIGHT NOW, I accepted this as truth. In a way, I’m glad I didn’t pursue writing as a career back then. The upside of waiting a couple of decades to fully understand that being a writer is a real job is that the landscape of publishing has changed so much during that time, and I’m so happy that self-publishing, ebooks and social media exist now.
When I was twenty, I started a college course in media, specialising in writing and directing for film and TV. I had none of the qualifications required but was given a place on the course anyway based on a collection of short stories I submitted with my application. This was short-lived for financial reasons, although I did get to go to college a few years later and study photography, then enjoy it as a profession for a while, so I’m super grateful for that experience.
Of all the random jobs I did over the years, the most recent involved marketing and communications. I was writing professionally, but not for myself. I enjoyed it but I also kind of felt like an engineer on the Death Star – a feeling familiar to many people who have worked in marketing. When I left that job at the end of 2016, I basically lost my shit for a month because I had no idea what I was going to do at the age of 35, living with a health condition that severely affected the kind of work I was able to do.
Having made it through that particular breakdown spiritual awakening (all credit to Brené Brown for the terminology), 2017 became the year I decided to really do the writing thing. I started sharing my work under my own name, my full name, as a way to fully connect myself to my writing. I took the massive step of saying ‘I am a writer’ instead of ‘I want to be a writer’, and the even more gargantuan step of believing it.
I’m still at the beginning of this adventure, but I feel like I’m exactly where I’m supposed to be and I can’t wait to see what happens next.