I believe it all began when I moved to Cambridge from Scotland.
Shortly after our marriage, my husband and I made the rash decision to live out in ‘the sticks,’ in a sleepy Cambridgeshire village called Chatteris. What an enormous culture shock for an Edinburgh city girl like me – I felt isolated and pretty miserable.
Perhaps I would never have started writing if it wasn’t for this and later sadness’s in my life. In time we moved to the suburbs of Cambridge, within easy reach of the city centre. I made new friends but missed the loving support of my extended family. My husband worked long hours, but I knew that he longed to Do What He Loved – ski on a mountain or be in a rock band! Financial responsibilities meant that his personal dreams languished. Inadvertently, this sacrifice triggered my idea for The Curse of Time – The Bloodstone, my WIP – which is currently being edited by my lovely friend – Colleen Chesebro – Author of The Heart Stone Chronicles – The Swamp Fairy/
As my daughters grew older I developed an interest in alternative therapies and worked as an Aromatherapist/Reflexologist. During this time I discovered an interest in crystals. This beautiful Malachite captured my attention, demanding to be my first crystal purchase.
The Malachite definitely sparked my creativity, and helped alleviate my shyness! My urge to write developed in a whirlwind of reading, and imagination. I woke up with ideas and jotted them in a notebook. This manic phase coincided with the arrival of a strange black cat who demanded my attention. He became my muse. Was he a stray? Or perhaps a witch’s cat? Sadly, he disappeared without a trace. I had an odd idea (to find a black cat model,) and my blogging friend Gary Jefferies: Fiction Is Food introduced me to Samantha Murdoch – the proud owner of Lily.
Astonishingly Lily bears a remarkable resemblance to the black cat in my book, Shadow.
Guess what? Samantha loves crystals too! Bloodstone, (photographed below by her son,) plays a central part in my book – another extraordinary coincidence!
Photo credit for above three photos: Alex Marlowe, Samantha Murdoch’s son.
All these incredible connections have fuelled my desire to write. I am so lucky to have many inspiring writers, bloggers, and creative individuals who I call friends. Astounded by their support and encouragement my confidence has soared. I’ve participated in short stories prompts, poetry, photography challenges, and weekend coffee shares… In August 2015 I did the unthinkable – I shrugged off my shy persona and attendedMy First Bloggers Bash.
In part, this is thanks to the power of my Malachite crystal! I can’t wait to attend the next bash in June, and see some of my blogging friends, (unfortunately not all can attend,) and new ‘faces,’ too.
Life is devoid of meaning without ‘real’ positive relationships, connections that matter. I believe that if you give of your best, you will receive the best back. I have a passion for the arts, and I will continue to promote bloggers, writers, and creative individuals who I count as my dear friends. I love supporting authors by writing book reviews: My Wise Old Owl A – Z Book Reviews, and offer Blogger/Author Spotlights. One recent example is:Sue Vincent and Stuart France
It is the writer who might catch the imagination of young people, and plant a seed that will flower and come to fruition. – Isaac Asimov
Such wonderfully inspiring words from Isaac Asimov. Let’s take this dandelion, blow gently and scatter its tiny but powerful seeds of creativity far and wide. If we can nurture the imagination of our youngsters then indeed we have achieved something worth celebrating.
Writing for children and young adults is so inspiring and exciting too. This is the age when there are so many possibilities, and opportunities for growth. That’s not to say that there aren’t a multitude of difficulties too, growing up is never easy, and the teenage years can be particularly challenging. So many issues can and do rear their heads, bullying, gender and sexuality, peer pressure, these are just some of the obvious ones that come to mind. But if we allow children and young people a chance to dream beyond their current capabilities then who knows what they can achieve? My husband is always saying, “Reach for the stars,” to my two daughters, it may sound a bit over the top but it’s such sound advice. Yes, reach for those twinkly stars!
Do what you love, follow your dreams, and enjoy life to the full. Those stars may seem far away but with hard work and dedication, encouragement and belief in yourself those stars may not be as far as you think.
About Isaac Asimov (Courtesy of Goodreads)
Isaac Asimov was a Russian-born, American author, a professor of biochemistry, and a highly successful writer, best known for his works of science fiction and for his popular science books.
Professor Asimov is generally considered the most prolific writer of all time, having written or edited more than 500 books and an estimated 90,000 letters and postcards. He has works published in nine of the ten major categories of the Dewey Decimal System (lacking only an entry in the 100s category of Philosophy).
Asimov is widely considered a master of the science-fiction genre and, along with Robert A. Heinlein and Arthur C. Clarke, was considered one of the “Big Three” science-fiction writers during his lifetime. Asimov’s most famous work is the Foundation Series; his other major series are the Galactic Empire series and the Robot series, both of which he later tied into the same fictional universe as the Foundation Series to create a unified “future history” for his stories much like those pioneered by Robert A. Heinlein and previously produced by Cordwainer Smith and Poul Anderson. He penned numerous short stories, among them “Nightfall”, which in 1964 was voted by the Science Fiction Writers of America the best short science fiction story of all time, a title many still honor. He also wrote mysteries and fantasy, as well as a great amount of nonfiction. Asimov wrote the Lucky Starr series of juvenile science-fiction novels using the pen name Paul French.
Most of Asimov’s popularized science books explain scientific concepts in a historical way, going as far back as possible to a time when the science in question was at its simplest stage. He often provides nationalities, birth dates, and death dates for the scientists he mentions, as well as etymologies and pronunciation guides for technical terms. Examples include his Guide to Science, the three volume set Understanding Physics, and Asimov’s Chronology of Science and Discovery.
Asimov was a long-time member and Vice President of Mensa International, albeit reluctantly; he described some members of that organization as “brain-proud and aggressive about their IQs” He took more joy in being president of the American Humanist Association. The asteroid 5020 Asimov, the magazine Asimov’s Science Fiction, a Brooklyn, NY elementary school, and two different Isaac Asimov Awards are named in his honor.
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Sometimes we need to give ourselves a little pick me up, a reminder to Do What We Love, even if that particular thing that we love seems difficult to achieve. Just recently I have been querying agents, and been getting some knock backs. This is all part of becoming a writer, in fact it’s almost like I’ve completed my first test in an initiation ceremony, up until this point I wasn’t a fully fledged member of the writing society. Once you suffer rejections you join the club. So, instead of being disappointed maybe I should view this as a positive rather than a negative step? I’ve joined the Esteemed Authors Never Give Up Club, yippee, it’s got a certain ring to it, even the likes of J.K. Rowling can claim to be a member.
“J.K Rowling was famously rejected by a mighty 12 publishers before Harry Potter and The Philosopher’s Stone was accepted by Bloomsbury – and even then only at the insistence of the chairman’s eight-year-old daughter.”
So, whatever your dream may be, remember to always Do What You Love. Somehow if you follow that simple rule I’m sure you will never go wrong. So, whether you like to sing, dance, act, write, read, draw, paint, cook, eat, travel, photograph, laugh, blog!!!! Ok, that last one crept in there without my noticing. JUST DO IT!
Whatever it is you love to do, keep on going…..
If you need a bit of encouragement right now feel free to share the sentiments of this blog post, give yourself a pat on the back, why not? My only request is that you confess any setbacks you are currently experiencing, but remember if you really love what you do, don’t ever, ever, give up!
This blog post was inspired in part by a discussion I had on Facebook about the difficulties of getting published. The FB chat I had was with Virginia Bergin author of the YA, science fiction, dystopia, The Rain, (the Rain#1) andThe Storm, (The Rain #2.)
This is Virginia’s inspiring reply: “It’s a tough old business! I’d been doing my own writing (alongside all kinds of other jobs) for about 20 years before The Rain happened. It was pretty much the first novel I’d written, and certainly the first YA novel. I thought it would get rejected. For sure! I think we have to love what we do so much that we do just keep going . . . and I suppose we learn more with everything we write. That definitely happened with me; I had a LOT of practice! Keep going . . . Best wishes! Vx”
Virginia is so right, we never stop learning, so that means we have enormous potential to keep on improving. There is an abundance of hope on the horizon, though a few rain and storm clouds are brewing too!
I’d like to highlight an article that Virginia Bergin suggested to me that might be of interest to female writers who are new to the industry, who may feel that they don’t quite fit the typical writer’s profile, may feel a bit lost, or isolated, and would benefit from a writing mentoring service:
“WoMentoring aims to offer help to female writers who would otherwise not have access to support. Although it’s a project set up to redress a gender imbalance in publishing, my personal hope is that it will act on other imbalances too – race, class, household income, cultural tradition, schooling – because there must be some overlap in the perceived lack of opportunity there.”
“Cambridge Writers is an organisation of both published and unpublished writers in Cambridge (U.K.) and nearby towns and villages. It has been in existence for about 60 years. Currently it has about 80 members.”
It just struck me today that I have been a member of Cambridge Writers since June 2012. How time flies. I am so very glad that I joined and would like to encourage other budding writers to join a writer’s group.
There are so many benefits of joining a Writer’s group. First of all, you meet like-minded people of varying ages from many diverse walks of life. I have found the Children’s Writing group, to be a wonderful source of support and advice. Whether you need someone to give you constructive criticism of your work, advise you on finding an agent, or explain how to structure a picture book, there are members who are happy to do what they can to help. We are lucky to have writers within the group who have either become published since joining the group, or who have come ready-made!
Several new members have joined this year, one of whom, Isabel Thomas, is an experienced children’s non-fiction writer who has now started writing fiction. Alex Mellanby published the second book in the Tregarthur series, Tregarthur’s Revenge, in June. This followed excellent reviews for the first book, Tregarthur’s Promise. Lesley Hale has self-published the following books: Witness, (Matthew Reed, Tudor Adventures #1), An Act of Treason, (Matthew Reed, Tudor Adventures #2) and A Wry Smirk at The Dark Side (four short stories on supernatural themes.) Ruth Hatfield’s first book in her trilogy was published in November by Hot Key Press (UK) and Henry Holt (US). The Book of Storms was officially launched in the UK at Heffers in Cambridge. The sequel to The Book of Storms, The Colour of Darkness, is coming out in November, again published by Hot Key, Books.
Cambridge Writers comprises these diverse groups that meet on a monthly basis in member’s houses: Short Prose, Long Prose, Travel writing, Children’s Writing, Poetry, and a Commercial Editing Group for those amongst us who have already published or self-published novels. So there are masses of ways to get involved.
As well as these monthly sessions Cambridge Writers holds meetings on the first Tuesday of the month in which we invite authors to come talk to us, share their wisdom, and on the 5th of May there is to be a Writer’s resources evening. So what are you waiting for, check out the local writing groups in your area, and if you live in Cambridge, England, here’s the links to find out more: http://www.cambridgewriters.net/.
I am looking forward to getting more involved in the group.
Late Blooming Authors
To conclude my Do What You Love post I’d like to focus next on several famous authors who started later in life. How encouraging!!! This is to encourage my fellow potential late bloomers. I only started writing seriously about three years ago!
Here’s my list, I’m sure there are many more, but for the purposes of this blog post, I’m sticking to these inspiring guys and gals:
Mary Alice Fontenot wrote almost thirty books in her lifetime, and her writing career began at the age of fifty-one. Fontenot’s first Clovis Crawfish book, Clovis Crawfish and his Friends was published in 1961.
Anthony Burgess never pursued writing seriously until he was thirty-nine, aware that it was not a stable income, when he published the first installment of The Long Day Wanes: A Malayan Trilogy (1956’s Time for a Tiger).
Laura Ingells Wilder. As a child, Wilder lived in a little house on the prairie, no surprise there! She actually began writing around the age of forty-four, whilst she was working as a columnist, and had a pretty successful freelance career. But it wasn’t until 1931, when she published Little house in The Big Woods, that Laura Ingells Wilder really made a name for herself. She was the ripe old age of sixty-four. The when I’m 64………, Beatles song lyrics come to mind.
Helen De Whitt., DeWitt’s excellent debut novel, The Last Samurai, was published in 2000, when Helen De Whitt was forty-four years old. Apparently she attempted to finish many novels, before finally completing The Last Samurai, her 50th manuscript, in 1998.
George Eliot, Mary Anne Evans, published her first novel, Adam Bede when she was forty.
Middlemarch would not be published for fifteen years!
William S. Burroughs. Sadly, it took accidentally shooting his wife in the head to get Burroughs focused on writing. In the introduction to Queer, a novel written in 1952 but not published until 1985, he stated: “I am forced to the appalling conclusion that I would never have become a writer but for Joan’s death, and to a realization of the extent to which this event has motivated and formulated my writing.” He began writing Queer while he awaited trial. He was convicted of culpable homicide, given a two-year suspended sentence and moved to Morocco and started writing like mad. He was thirty-nine when he published his first confessional book, (Burroughs was a heroine addict.) In 1953 he published Junky, and he was forty-five when Naked Lunch was published, in 1959.
Charles Bukoski quit his day job to devote himself to writing at age forty-nine, saying, “I have one of two choices-—stay in the post office and go crazy … or stay out here and play at writer and starve. I have decided to starve.” He did not, in fact, starve. He had finished his first novel, Post Office, at fifty-one years old, within four weeks of leaving the post office and just kept going from there, eventually publishing thousands of poems, hundreds of short stories, and six novels.
Margot Finke didn’t begin serious writing until the day her youngest left for college. She writes mid-grade adventure fiction and rhyming picture books. Margot said, “I really envy those who began young, and managed to slip into writing mode between kid fights, diaper changes, household disasters, and outside jobs. You are my heroes!”
Mary Wesley published a few children’s books in her fifties, but people didn’t notice her talent until she published her first novel, “Jumping the Queue,” at seventy years old. Jumping the Queue takes place mainly in Cornwall, and follows a middle-aged woman’s struggle with guilt and self-reproach after the death of her husband and her determination to jump the queue by committing suicide. The book was turned down by several publishers, but James Hale of Macmillan saw something special in her work, and by the time of her death at ninety years old, she was widely popular.
Lee Child: At the age of forty he sat down to write a book, Killing Floor, that became the first in the Jack Reacher series. The book won the Anthony and Barry Award for best first novel.
“To anybody who is an aspiring writer,” Child said, “this is a great career because not only can you, but you should, start late.”
“I think it’s the ideal career to do later in life,” Child said. “You know, by the time you’ve experienced stuff and read stuff and seen stuff–just wait. Wait ten years, wait twenty years, wait until it’s ready to come back out. People who start writing too young, it’s essentially a hollow thing, you know, they haven’t lived enough, they haven’t experienced enough, they haven’t learned enough.”
Raymond Chandler was forty-five, when he began publishing pulp crime short stories. Six years later, he published his first novel, “The Big Sleep,” which launched his stellar successful crime writing career.
So, late-blooming writers are quite an amazing bunch. Don’t you agree? Just hope I might have a tiny smidgen of this late-blooming talent, still of plenty time!!!!!
A final quote:
“Dreams come true. Without that possibility, nature would not incite us to have them. ”
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