I don't actually remember The Day I decided I wanted to write. And I don't mean because I had to hand an essay in. I mean because I really, really *wanted to*, I really, really *needed* to and I really actually couldn't stop. It was at school, I have no doubt about that and it can't have been anything my parents said to encourage me because, well, they just didn't. It was my Primary teacher, Mr East who inspired me initially - and elevated my love of books after he read The Hobbit to an enthralled class of nine year olds, myself included. And for years after, I thought Frodo and Bilbo Baggins lived in the spinney at the bottom of a lane in our village. Okay then, I still do.
When I went to Middle school, it was the very loud (clothes-wise - he wore deep green velvet suits and very wide ties which were de rigeur in the 70's but quite fey in hindsight) and very fresh-faced Mr Howard who taught Art (no surprise there) along with English who encouraged me endlessley. On my last day at middle school he wrote in my autograph book "remember to send me a signed copy of your first book" and I fairly floated all summer on the high that someone had that kind of faith in me. I will track him down *when* my day arrives too, see - teachers - the good ones, we never forget you
I can skip a couple of decades before I arrive at where I am *now* because they could be called the Dark Years. Writing happened, of course it did. But it was never shown the light of day, or another human being's critical gaze. Especially the parents. Love letters, love poems, songs, Fawlty Towers scripts, four-act plays, letters to the BBC telling them Terry Wogan was rubbish and they should hire me instead (hmm - see me sobbing 20 years later as he says farewell on his last radio show) and two very well-received Best Man (rhyming) Speeches. I wrote short short stories, edited company magazines, wrote feature length articles for trade press and even got given a whole Advertising and PR Department once - just because I had to write, no matter what it was about. (Actually, there's only so much literary license that can be found in a machine that shrink wraps cola bottles - but by God, I found it!).
And now, dear reader, I am writing books. I have written three. I'm writing a fourth. I never thought I'd ever be able to say that. I have written three books. The fact that they aren't on shelves in bookstores (yet) does not make me any less a writer than our Enid or our J.K. I go to bed with a book in my hand and another in my head. I wake up having written the next chapter or found the next idea. When I'm at the (paid) work I am writing the next scene in my mind and can't wait to get back to commit it to screen.
And I surround myself with incredible people who all feel the same way and who all want the same thing and who all love the written word as much as I do. And the encouragement and support and advice and honest-to-god feedback I get from these wonderful writerly people is my lifeblood. I would not be where I am today (*here*) without them, that's for sure. And I certainly couldn't go on without knowing that they're around. Some are fledglings, some are newly-agented, some are about to be published for the first time and some are real life Bestselling authors already. I feel honoured and privileged to know them and to be a part of their wonderful lives and thank them for letting me be a part of theirs.
You know who you are!
And if my dreams never materialise for whatever reason, I just wanted to announce - today - that I'm somewhere right now I never dreamed I would be.