about writing and life and God

This wonderful life

on June 10, 2013
Ferry between Southwold and Walberswick

Ferry between Southwold and Walberswick

Last week I polished off the proofs and created the index for the new book for carers. Entitled Still Caring, it will be published by SPCK in print form and for Kindle in August. So that’s done – apart from the author involvement in marketing and publicity. Something I find cringe-making even though I know how important it is. So, being pretty good at biting bullets, grinning and bearing, I shall no doubt simply get on with it – but nearer publication date!

Meanwhile, there is the novel. Today I managed 1550 words. That means a total of over 66,000 – the most I have ever written for a single novel. In the past I underwrote. My approach was to slam down the plot – to tell myself the story, basically, without frills. But this story seems much richer, demanding I give the characters room to tell their own stories.

And I admit I’m gripped. I left this morning’s session on a bit of a cliff-hanger. I know where it’s going to go but I’m intrigued to see how it’s going to get there! I am simply loving writing this book and I ache with hope that it may be published.

It’s not my first ‘baby’, you see. There have been around a dozen other fiction attempts but not one like this. In the past I wanted to be a writer. As a precocious 12-year-old I announced my plan to ‘be an author’ – receiving the usual patronising pats on the head! But it was my name on book spines I wanted to see. I had no idea of the hard work that goes in to getting it there!

In the six months between graduating and accompanying my first husband to Northern Nigeria where he’d just landed himself an interesting job, I frittered the time away with short-term jobs till sheer boredom drove me to a novel-writing class and the start of my very first novel. It was science fiction/fantasy and although the plot holds up not badly even now, the technology has been superseded long past.

The next one was a gothic romance. I was a great fan of Victoria Holt and this was my hommage to the lady. Still in my early twenties and as innocent of the seamy side of life as a new-born lamb, I bit off more than I could chew and it lingered for many years, written but unconvincing.

A Young Adult adventure set in West Africa followed. Unfinished because the story required my hero and heroine to bribe some border guards and I really couldn’t make myself bad-mouth people who had been unfailingly courteous and helpful to me!

By then I was working as an editor in the University Publishing House. We returned to the UK and ‘my brilliant publishing career’. (Please hear the heavy irony!) It was only after hitting the glass ceiling – and rock bottom – that I found myself writing again. I completed a children’s book for a friend’s son (who now has two youngsters of his own!), made a start on another focusing on global warming, tried a couple of Mills & Boons (don’t ask!), and did a huge amount of research for a family saga trilogy based loosely on events in my own family. There were a few more. A crime novel. A chick-lit for older and wiser chicks. And at last, this novel.

Much water under the bridge. But now it’s no longer about me and my name on books. Now I am writing for God and for God’s people. It’s a conscious commitment and commission, and it matters. It also changes everything. Now, only my best will do. And I do think it may well be my best. But hopefully not my last! I have a few more ideas – and a couple of the relegated ideas may be worth reviewing.

So, 66,000 words down, a cliff-hanger waiting for me to start again tomorrow. This writing life – it’s a wonderful life!


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