The moment I decided I wanted to write I was failing to draw.
My family are quite talented artists, and no matter how much I tried I wasn't patient enough or good enough to draw the way I wanted to. The comics I attempted to create - a period I refer to now as my 'early nerdist' phase - weren't sufficient enough tell the stories I wanted to tell. Hours of introversion, very inky fingers, and faces that (while demonstrably not c**p) were far from the detailed characters in my head... and I gave up. Let's try writing instead, I thought...
Devouring books was something I could do with ease, but I imagined it'd take me a lifetime to write one. At 15, 'Give it till I'm 50,' I thought (which then seemed a lifetime away). Starting with short stories, the comics I dreamed drawn in words. Book 1 I finished at the age of 19 - by which I mean, my first draft. It was....done. Let's call it done, because it wasn't good. There were good bits though, I knew that. In proving to myself that I could start a story, and finish one, I fell in love with the process. Giving up on Book 1, I wondered, 'Is finishing one book a fluke?'
Book 2, took me until I was 24. Yet to take a lesson, learning by doing, copying, relying on my instincts as a reader, and still plagued with terrible grammar skills, I also got busy learning what the business of writing really meant. Not yet brave enough to 'come out' as a writer, another idea bloomed, an idea that led to....
Book 3: the great 10 year tome, which was shared partly online. To quote my brother in the car one day, 'Stop giving it away on the internet' led to me actually braving to send it out and eventual rejection. I gave up again...on that book. Maybe I needed to disconnect my ego a bit? I'd start meeting other writers, teachers, editors, and learn a few things about this thing called writing. Focusing my intent on learning, editing, writing short and flash fiction to find my voice. Thanks to the great teachers at the WordTheatre writer's retreat (David Means, Andres Dubus III, Richard Bausch, Pamela Painter), encouraged by them, their notes and eloquence...I found my passion again.
A four month 'fun' story to write got me in the door of the Golden Egg Academy. Once more I sat at the keyboard, honing, learning, supported by the incredible talent and community that I now had, holding me up, keeping me going, relighting that fire when it began to wane.
Until last year.
Year 3 on the book and guess what? I gave up. I wasn't going to waste another 10 years on a book. This was my version of giving up anyway... I'd write something else.
Then Undiscovered Voices 2018 was announced.
'What's to lose?' thought I, 'Let it go. If it loves me, maybe it will come back.'
Never expected I'd be longlisted.
Never imagined I'd be a chosen finalist.
And the idea that I'd be published, even a few chapters of my book? No. Not yet, I thought, still have so much time to go!
Yet tonight I'm attending the legendary Undiscovered Voices 2018 Launch party. Preparing for a smorgasbord of agents and editors. British publishing royalty awaits me and my fellow writers tonight.
Whatever happens next, two things for me are certain: sometimes letting go of the route is what's needed to get to the end of the road; you can't do it alone.
For me (because the road ahead is still long) and for everyone still striving (yes, we've all read blogs where writers say that, but right now it feels TRUE - you WILL get there, just perhaps not the way you think) - here's a playlist that might help keep us going through the tough parts.
To learn more about what got me here you can check out the www.undiscoveredvoices.com info and Download Undiscovered Voices 2018 Edition for free.