The right to choose your own path is a sacred privilege – Oprah Winfrey
I’ve always loved writing and I can’t remember a time when I didn’t. I was rewarded at school for story writing and three of my English teachers told me, “Never give up writing stories.” Sadly though, my mother didn’t encourage my passion for writing. Quite the opposite. I was told that I would never be good at anything. So that’s what I believed all through my life.
In my early fifties, I discovered that I had a talent for designing Hardanger needlework patterns. I never showed any interest in needlework in my entire life, yet here I was, designing Hardanger patterns, and selling them all over the world through my business ‘Sew To Be Seen Designs’, and I worked for two popular stitching magazines for over five years. I loved that time, especially engaging with the public when I displayed my work at the largest needlework show in the country – The Knitting & Stitching Show at Alexandra Palace in London. My business flourished for over six years.
But … I knew designing Hardanger patterns wasn’t my life purpose and it wasn’t until I saw Ricky Gervais being interviewed on one of those chat shows that my true passion resurfaced. He told the audience, “Find out what your passion is and do it. Just do it. Don’t wait until tomorrow. Do it today. If you want to do it badly enough then that’s what you’re supposed to do.” His statement rang loud in my head and I couldn’t stop repeating his words. I quickly realised that although I had a talent for designing needlework, it wasn’t my true calling. My true calling was to write humorous stories for children and become an author. Writing is what I wanted to do but the passing of time made me forget.
So a story idea hit me on the head and I began to write. I delved straight into the storytelling process, without knowing where I was going or what I was doing. I just allowed my characters to lead me into this unknown world and for the first time in many, many years, I felt absolutely free – because that’s what writing does. It frees you. When you write from the heart (I named one of my designs ‘From The Heart’) your imagination takes you on a journey of discovery. A journey into the unknown, a journey where no one but you is allowed to go unless you want them to.
“That’s what writing does – it frees you.”
However … my husband gave me no support or encouragement, which made writing difficult. So once again, just as I did when I was a child, I wrote in secret. It was the only way I could write. Two years later I walked away from thirty years of marriage, which took enormous courage as I was approaching sixty-three. But as the old saying goes … ‘It’s never too late’ … and that’s absolutely true.
I was delighted with my new home and as soon as I was settled, I started writing again. However, sometime after, my forty-five year old son Jason, died in tragic circumstances and my world fell apart. Again, my true passion disappeared. Then about six months after my son’s death, I opened my story file on my lap top and stared blankly at my story ideas. A little voice (and this is absolutely true) whispered, “Have another go. You’ll never know unless you try.” Then a moment later, I found myself asking, “Will you help me, Jason?”
I named the story The Halloween Chill and it was the first book I published, having worked with my editor, Lorna from The Write Factor. I contacted her via a writing magazine that I subscribed to and she immediately understood how years of being told I was not good enough to be a writer had taken their toll. Lorna helped me to regain my confidence and to write the stories I’d always wanted to write and my son Jason stood quietly by my side. It was an incredible experience.
Now I’ve just published my second book Them and it feels even more wonderful than my first book, because with my first book I still lacked a bit of self-belief, but with my second book, I could revel in the story from start to finish. So, when I say, ‘It’s never too late…’ it really isn’t! Here I am, writing all those stories that were locked away for so long, and I love it!