From there to here- My Writing Journey
I love reading stories, writing stories, listening to people’s stories. I will look at a person standing at a bus stop looking a little lost and think, what is your story? You know that hour just before dusk when the lights come on but people have forgotten to close their curtains? I admit I love peeking into people’s living rooms then, unashamedly snooping on their lives. A couple sit on the sofa, watching television. Together and yet not touching. Why? There’s a story right there. A woman in her kitchen chopping onions, while her partner stands with his back to her getting something from the fridge- the intimacy of it. I picture her telling him about her day while she chops tomatoes for salad and he hunts for the bottle of wine he swears he didn’t finish yesterday and must be here somewhere. There I go, creating stories from a glimpse I have stolen into people’s lives. I will see a face pressed against the bus, nose flat against the window and something in the person’s expression will speak to me. He’s lonely, I’ll say to my husband. And he’ll laugh: There you go again.
However, when it comes to writing my own, I don’t know where to begin. But I am determined to try. So here goes…I wrote my first ‘book’- a ten page poem titled ‘Mother’ when I was seven. Then life got in the way, as it does: growing up, university, marriage, children. When I was on maternity leave with my eldest, I saw the ad for the ‘Writers Bureau’ and I spent money I could ill afford getting the course. I started it, sent off the first assignment- we had to do it the old fashioned way then, by post, and got back a very positive reply. But then, I got bogged down by the non-fiction side of things. Magazine articles was the second assignment. I persevered until the fourth and then gave up. Non-fiction didn’t interest me. I wanted to make up stories, get lost in an imaginary world. The real world was awash with dirty nappies and crying baby, and I wanted an escape. What with a new baby, it was all hands on deck, and so I went back to work.
After my youngest was born, my friend suggested I join an adult education course to find my way in. The first story I wrote was about a captain and his muse, with a twist. The group loved it. The teacher encouraged me to send my stories out. I did. And amidst all the rejections, Bartleby Snopes decided to publish ‘Colour’. It went on to be nominated for the Pushcart prize. Meanwhile several of my other stories were getting accepted elsewhere, four of them were published in anthologies, there was even a book launch for one of them! Then my friend, the same one who had urged me to do the creative writing course asked if I had it in me to write a novel. So I did. The first draft began as a story of two sisters, but then I pictured this little girl bored in her grandmother’s house and flicking through old photographs and Reena emerged. And so it went from there. I sent the book out once it was done, and I got some very positive rejections- ‘Your book is good but the current market is not conducive.’
Then I saw the ad for Bookouture in Mslexia and well…that’s when my story took off.
I have nothing but praise for Bookouture. They are very easy to submit to, all you have to do is upload a blurb of your book and the book itself. They also have one of the fastest response times in the business; I think they are the only publishers who respond within a month of submission- in my case they got back in 4 days. They do all the hard work for you, from creating your website to marketing your book. So if you have a manuscript you think is ready for submission, try Bookouture. It’s worked for me.