I started my writing career early, winning several essay prizes while still at school. Things went downhill a bit after that. I wrote diligently throughout my teenage years and at university, mostly essays and diaries – the latter for my eyes only.
Later, I produced some short stories for Jackie magazine. I'm sure that many gransnetters - like me - will have fond memories of that publication. More short stories and articles followed in the women’s press. I worked as a journalist and as an advertising copywriter at various times; words, words, words, but never the big one –THE NOVEL.
Finally, I wrote my first novel – a Mills and Boon type offering, while weighted down by single parenthood and erratic employment. I hoped it would pay the gas bill for a few years. Despite being accepted it never saw the light of day. I pocketed an advance and became convinced that my novels were not intended for public consumption.
When I moved to Bristol and my children left to lead their own lives I joined an all-women writers’ circle which has been a tower of strength over the years. I wrote my way through four more books – not a lot to show for all those years. I started to send my work out to agents and publishers, gaining some encouraging remarks but no offers.
Then, one sunny day at the Winchester Writers’ Conference, an editor from Little Brown read my latest manuscript – a spoof sequel to Pride and Prejudice – and offered me a contract. It was another year before I gained an agent – not the normal way to do things, it must be said.
Now, as my book is about to appear in the shops I find myself a granny writer. "Are you really a writer, gran?" (nine year-old grandson). I suppose I am! Certainly I find myself on social media and appearing at literary festivals like an actual grown-up author.
The moral of this tale for any would-be writers out there is - it’s never too late. Just don’t hang about as long as I did!