I was not a popular kid. I won’t go into all those long ago details and decisions that made my life a bit different, not here, not now anyway. I am just telling you this in way of explanation as to why I write.
At junior school I was a bit of a goody two shoes. Prefect and headmistresses pet. I’m sure you can imagine how well that went down in the East End. We had a reward system in our class and the first person that finished their work got to go and spend the rest of class time in the library. That is where you would find me, nose in The Moomins.
My life continued in that way and my friends in those days were found in books. They taught me a lot.
My teenage years got even worse. That’s when I started to write. Not stories but poems and pages of letters, to whom, I don’t know. They were deep and dark and written out of loneliness and despair. When I look at them now, I am surprised to find humour in some of them. I realise it is that humour that got me through.
Whatever this life has thrown at me, good or bad, I write it down. Sometimes I write it down and store it away and sometimes, if it’s bad, I write it down and take it to one of my peaceful places and there, I burn it, casting it to the wind and hoping it will carry the badness away with the ashes.
The first book I attempted was a purging exercise. It was a work of fiction interwoven with facts from my life. I wrote page after page, chapter after chapter and found I could not complete it as I did not know the end.
The second book I attempted was around the time of the internet explosion. Entitled ‘KORT’, it was the story of a girl and her internet dating exploits. As a reader, I soon saw that many people were writing on the same subject. I never finished it.
Both of these sat on my computer just waiting for me to take them out again. Perhaps I would have one day, had my computer not been destroyed by a flood.
The third book is a story that I love, entitled ‘Gabrielle’. It is a tale of pure fiction. I took my time with this one, falling to sleep each night with the story in my mind and waking up each morning with a new chapter in my head. It too was on my hard drive but fortunately, I had a printed version. I will finish it one day soon.
When I moved to Turkey, I took it for granted that I would write a book about it. It is, just what I do, write things down. It’s how I make sense of life. This I did in 2006. I did do a bit of research and in a half arsed attempt I did send it to a few publishing houses, the ones that took email submissions anyway. A couple of them wrote back, even though their words were ‘no thank you’ it was still nice to hear from them.
Because it’s just what I do, I just do it. I have even wrote scripts since I have lived here in Turkey. Four pantomimes and an original play that rolled off the pen, but then, they were for charity. I think sometimes I would like to be a writer and earn my living at it and then I look at just what that entails. Writing about subjects chosen for you; working to someone else’s deadlines etc.. And I do wonder; would that take away the love of it for me? I admire those that have the dedication to do it.
I did write a column for a local paper here but that was a labour of love as it allowed me to write about what I love. I then started an online magazine and again, it was a labour of love as I put it together based on things that I loved. Neither of these earned me any money but that was ok because that’s not why I was writing.
During that time, I had some lovely comments from people who enjoyed reading my stories. I liked that.
Eventually I started a blog. 2010 I think it was. There was no pressure, I just blogged when I felt like it and then I looked at the stats one day and realised I had followers. Not only that, they were worldwide. I felt kind of committed then and stepped up the blogging.
I had a look around other people’s blogs and realised that really, it can be a bit of a business. I noticed that bloggers were now ‘freelance’ writers. I delved a bit further and found there were online portals where you could bid for writing jobs and I realised that there was a way to become a full time writer if you have the time, dedication and commitment. Due to the World Wide Web, anything is possible.
I added a similar page to my blog offering my services. Then I deleted it. Then I added another one and it sits there all half arsed emitting vibes that say “please don’t hire me really”.
Emails started to drop into my inbox. They say things like “how much would it cost to advertise on your site” and “we would like to write a guest post. What is the fee”? So you know what I do next don’t you? Yep, I write back and tell them I am sorry but that is not what my site is about. I hope they don’t take offence.
I decided not to go down that road. It just didn’t feel right for me. It’s a bit like when I spent a full year studying to be a Reflexologist, after which I rented an office, painted it, furnished it held an ‘open evening’ and started pulling in customers. From the very first one I knew I could not do the job. Why? Because I couldn’t charge them. The minute money changed hands it felt wrong. I felt that if these hands could help someone then let them. Taking money for it took away my pleasure at being able to help. Yes I know I am stupid.
I carry on blogging, at my own pace but taking it a bit more seriously. I am in the UK on a long break when another email drops into my inbox. It’s from a publishing house and it says ridiculous things about reading my blog and liking it and then asking if I would be interested in writing a book”
My head screams “scam”
I do some research.
They are legit.
Emails bounce back and forward between us.
I agree to it.
Dusting off my tale of a transitional journey, I re-read the book I wrote in 2006. I think its crap. I have obviously finely tuned my writing skills since then.
I tweak, amend, delete, rewrite and drive myself crazy.
I stall for time.
I send the first couple of chapters to my friend Hilary for proofing. She gets carried away reading it and not much proofing gets done.
Back home in Turkey, I coerce my good friend Magi to give it the once over. She does. She’s kind and say’s some of it has her laughing out loud. She says it’s very ‘me’, whatever that means.
I feel it needs a review. Luckily I have some hard hitting writing friends who I can send it to. I whiz copies off to Jack and Jane, bite my nails and forget to breathe.
They send me reviews. I fall deeper in love with them.
I am now at the final stages of this journey and very soon, I will be able to say “I’m a published author”. That terrifies me but instead of writing those terrifying thoughts down, I tell my friends. I tell them and they say things like:
“Don’t be so bloody stupid”
They are happy for me. They are excited. They can’t wait to read it they say. And most of all, they are supportive. It’s a great feeling.
Will it sell? Who knows?
Will it make me my fortune? I doubt it
Do I care? Absolutely not
I did it and I am amazed.
I think of all those words I have written in my life…. millions of them. I think of them tucked away in bags and boxes now abandoned. I hope they know that they were the best kind of therapy for a girl like me. Through them, I got here and here, I am happy.