I love to write. I also love reading, and anything else that provides me with some sort of escapism. It wouldn’t be stepping too far from the truth to say, that I was unique in my family in that way. My family are all doctors, lawyers, judges and the like. I don’t mean to be dismissive of them at all. I respect and admire all of them for what they do on a daily basis. They actually scare me senseless, family or no. But in my family? I’m the odd duck on the pond, or the ugly duck as it were.
Mother once told me that I wasn’t adopted and that I needed to pull my socks up a bit – this was after I’d written an essay at school on where I’d come from. My mother, being the literal being she is, took exception to the piece, even though I tried to explain that it was a piece of fiction only.
For the last few years I’ve been writing on and off. Never serious, just dabbling, doubting my ability – as you do. I’ve taken my bit’s and pieces of work and thrown it in a drawer to be left mouldering. I thought that, unlike wine it wouldn’t age well.
I had no idea at the time, how wrong I was.
You see there’s this rather new and novel way (no pun intended dear reader) for a person who has the time, talent and conviction to obtain all of the assistance that once could only be found in a publishing house, all online. You can actually publish yourself if you have the drive and do the research. It was doing the research that had me end up here, as an acclaimed writer and now published, I can also say author.
Let me go back a bit first though, so you understand where I’m coming from. You see some time ago now I was, what I now term ‘unconventionally’ fired from my longterm position, and fired in a rather spectacular way. I was a loyal employee and believed that I would either retire or die before I left. I was accused of doing something I had not, and found wanting was ‘asked’ to leave. It was such a shock, for not only was I wrongly accused, I had never been fired from a job before. I had received raises, secondments and been head-hunted, but never fired. It was just before Christmas, and my family at the time, relied heavily on my income. It truly was not a good time for either my family or myself.
Approximately one week later, and heavily depressed – it was only a few days before Christmas Day, and for the first time since leaving work, I found myself alone at home. Feeling completely devastated by the circumstances I found myself in, and wallowing in self-pity – something I was unfamiliar with – I did the only thing that would make me happy – I grabbed my iPad, closed my eyes for a minute, and then began to write… the words flowed from me. I wrote a story. I have no idea how long I wrote for, but at the completion of that story, I found myself lighter of heart, and with a sense of satisfaction inside of me. I put the story in a drawer and within fifteen minutes my home was inundated with loved ones, and the story itself was completely forgotten.
Until about two weeks later when I was cleaning.
It was a lovely sunny day, and I’d been cleaning house for most of the morning, and decided that I needed a break. I grabbed my iPad and made myself a cuppa. I took my cup outside into our sunny courtyard, where I sat and browsed through my iPad.
I spotted the story I’d written, stunned that I could have forgotten it in such a short time.
I started to read.
I can remember my daughter Brianna finding me there sometime later. It truly was a beautiful day. I can also clearly remember how stunned I was, and that I could not have possibly written what I had just read – only I knew that I had. Brie asked me what ever was the matter with me, with a smile on her face and in her voice. I looked at her for a minute, and she said quite clearly too me, “Mum, you’re scaring me now. What is it?”
“Nothing, baby-girl. Just something I just read. Would you like a cuppa? I’m just about to make myself a fresh one.”
“I’d love one Mum.”
“Fine, how about you have a seat here, I’ll make us both a cuppa and be back in a minute. Oh, have a read of this. I want to know what you think of it.”
“Do I have too?”
“No,” I laughed, “of course you don’t. But I think you might like it, and as I said, I’d like your opinion. It’s just there, I’ll be back in a minute.”
Grabbing my cup, I went back into the kitchen. I joined Brie in the courtyard where she was avidly devouring my words. It made me smile.
I sat there with the sun shinning, enjoying my cuppa and waited.
“Oh my God Mum, this is fantastic,” she said. “Who’s the author, what’s the name of the book, I really want to read it.”
I sat there, I’m sure, with my mouth open, and then I gave a short laugh.
“What do you mean who’s the author. You know who wrote it!” I declared. It was at this point that I thought that having given her my iPad to read it on was perhaps not the best idea, as obviously she had cotton’ed on to the fact that I had, in fact, written it myself. I thought my girl was playing with me. How little did I know.
“Seriously Mum, who wrote it?”
Once again I just stared at her, for once completely at a loss for words. slowly contemplating the idea that perhaps she didn’t know.
“Mum?” I could tell my baby was now beginning to get annoyed with me, and the idea crept into my head that perhaps she truly didn’t realise that I had written it.
“You mean you really don’t know?” I asked.
“Now why would I ask if I knew?” she said clearly irritated.
Fair enough, I thought. Well here goes nothing. “Umm, I wrote it Brie.”
“I wrote it.” Once again that big grin of mine just plastered it across my face, because all of a sudden I realised, my girl had just confirmed that what I had read, was every bit as good as I thought it was.
For the next hour, there was much discussion held in our courtyard.
Suffice to say after that my husband read it, then my sister-in-law, my best friend and, well it took a fair amount of convincing, but eventually I began to realise that truly, I had nothing to lose. I just had to get it out there for others to read, a quote that I stole from my daughter by the way.
Seriously, I do believe in the end I published it just to stop my family and friends from harassing me.
I was lucky that I had been born of an age where information on publishing was only a click away. I did much research over the next few months all the while, honing my story and craft. I had nothing else to do, so I figured why not. In doing my research I realised one very pertinent fact, that I had access to millions upon millions of people. All I had to do was locate a beta team to read the manuscript objectively, an editor (because during that period I discovered I can edit others works, but not my own), an artist to make the beautiful cover that you’ve seen on my novel, and the most marvelous piece of research of all? I came across the most fascinating piece of information that effected me personally – that an ancestor of mine who passed away in 1849 and who, yes was a doctor, was also a published writer of that time in the west.
The artist in me no longer felt alone within the family.
I was lucky enough to visit him this time last year not long after I discovered his existence. I am rather a tactile person, and really felt the need to connect with him. I took with me flowers from my garden which I placed upon his grave in thanks. For his very existence as a writer in the family before me, gave me the final impetuous that I needed. It gave me faith at the time that was much needed, and today I was back to thank my ancestor for the faith and hope he had given me, and to share with him and celebrate my hitting the number one spot on Amazon for my genre. True, there were other people in my family that had helped me get here. But this family member deserved more from me than a mere thought.
I removed the dusty and now pale flowers that I’d placed on his grave last year, and replaced them with a fresh bunch of flowers – once again from my garden. He knew I was there, I could feel it. He also knew I’d be back again next year… for I knew now that there would be other stories to tell him about, and I knew he would appreciate being included in the family once again.
Family, and those that inspire us should never be forgotten.