It has been my lifelong dream to not only write a novel, but to also have my book published. I used to wander around book shops when I was younger and stroke the covers, imaging my name on the spine . . .
I’m reasonably bright, but it wasn’t until I was 37 that it occurred to me that in order to fulfil the dream of my very own novel jostling for space amongst others on a bookshelf, I would actually have to write one! That ‘wishing’ was not enough . . . Fairy Godmothers – well those with magic wands at any rate – do not exist in real life.
Following months of frustrating ‘writer’s block’, disguising lack of confidence, lack of self-esteem, and frankly abject terror, I completed ‘The Artist’s Way’ by Julia Cameron. This 12 week process miraculously unlocked my ‘writers’ block’, and as promised, reignited my creativity. Even though I have had sparse patches on the writing front since then, they have never been as intense or as drawn out.
During the first six months following the separation from my first husband (I only have two – my ex and current!), and whilst being a single working parent to two young boys, I wrote my first book. I would love to say that the world of agents and publishers unfolded their arms and welcomed me in amidst thoughts, naturally, of JK Rowling. Instead, the feeling of elation at having completed my first book mingled with the abject disappointment as the rejection slips from carefully targeted literary agents winged their way into my ‘In Box’ and through my letter box.
Over the past 12 or so years, I have written four novels and have three half-finished books languishing in the depths of my laptop’s memory waiting to be revamped.
I tried tackling a correspondence writing course and a journalism course on writing articles for magazines. Without the discipline and routine of attending a course, I didn’t manage to finish either of these.
My turning point came when I attended a 20 week ‘Write a Novel’ course run by Oxford University. I learned a huge amount about the craft of writing, and with a large dose of trepidation, found the courage to share my writing with others.
Eight of us from the course started a writing group – we meet up monthly. The constructive feedback, the feeling of not being alone, the inspiration to keep on keeping on has been instrumental in motivating me to bring ‘Never Again’, one of my previously half-finished novels back to life.
Yes, I am a romantic at heart, and I do love a happy ending, even if it takes a while to get there!
Compared with the more literary, intellectual and high-brow friends at my writing group, I write beach-read romances. I used to apologise for this, but no longer! Love stories have enchanted readers through the ages, think: ‘Romeo and Juliet’; ‘Love Actually’; ‘Pretty Woman’; ‘Notting Hill’; ‘Pride and Prejudice’; ‘Bridget Jones’ and many, many more. Okay, so I admit there are an unbalanced number of appearances of Hugh Grant and Colin Firth within these films, but I don’t think I will apologise for that either!
I love people – how they tick, what motivates them and how they interact fascinates me. I try to weave different personalities through my writing.
And the best part of all is that, whilst I would of course love to be published the traditional way with all the fanfare and marketing budget that that entails, I will be inordinately proud to upload my novel, ‘Never Again’ to Kindle, print a book on demand and bask in the satisfaction of having finally fulfilled my childhood dream.
Nicky Clifford, Writer