I got a shock this morning. Well, not so much a shock as a reality check. After yet another early 4am start, I reached the 20K point in my current script, the sixth in a crime series, and checked my diary to remind myself what day of the week it was. (I tend to lose track of time when I’m in the writing zone.) I’d made a note in it:
STARTED WRITING MY FIRST BOOK TEN YEARS AGO TODAY
Really? Has it been ten years since I penned the first lines of Mini Skirts and Laughter Lines? At the time, I fully expected it to be my one and only book, yet here I am a decade later, with twenty titles under my belt and more to be published.
I wonder how many words I’ve actually typed since that time – undoubtedly millions. I’ve worn letters off keys and broken four laptops.
Initially, I didn’t type the book (I am the world’s slowest typist and even now can still only type using three fingers). I actually wrote out the entire script by hand – a laborious but tested procedure – and filled A4 notebooks with chapter after chapter which I then corrected in red ink like a deranged teacher. It was only after I’d scrawled corrections and drawn arrows to move paragraphs, and added extra sections, that I would begin typing. All of that worked for me and I preferred to read the handwritten scripts than to scroll down pages on a computer. Nowadays, that’s not possible. With 3-5 books to write a year, I have to start immediately by typing ‘Chapter One’ and off I go.
In 2009, writing a book was top of my bucket list – a one-off comedy that would sink or swim. I had a desire to accomplish something I had not yet managed to do. Little could I have imagined that the decision to write it would direct me along a new path. The book swam and I continued writing.
As I look back over the last ten years, I feel a sense of achievement that hitherto, I couldn’t contemplate. I have loved writing every single one of my books and the more I write, the more ideas I have, so no sooner do I type an ending to one, than I’m ready to go again.
Undoubtedly, there will be further casualties over the forthcoming years: more laptops will be sent to the recycling unit with worn out keys and numerous notepads that now only contain essential notes, and I hope there will be many more books for you to enjoy.
If you’d told me 10 years ago that I would become a best-selling, full-time writer, I’d have laughed and said, “I wish!”
Well, it happened, so my message to all you writers out there is don’t give up because this time next decade…