When I was at secondary school, a careers advisor came to speak to us. “You’re so lucky,” my mum said. “When I was at school, women could only be teachers or nurses.” My mum was a teacher. So when the careers advisor asked me if I had any ideas about what job I wanted to do when I was older, I took a deep breath and said what I’d never told anyone at school: “I want to be an author.”
The careers advisor’s eyes opened wide, and her jaw dropped. What she said next shaped the rest of my life.
I sat quietly, wondering why I’d dared to share my dream with the careers advisor who quickly asked, “Is there another job you’d like to do?” I blurted out the first thing that came into my head: “Maybe I’d like to work in advertising.” She handed me a leaflet about the advertising industry, and off I went with the realisation that a life as an author wasn’t meant for me.
Of course, I knew that an author was a job and not just something people do in retirement. But, in my mind, there was only one reason the careers advisor had said what she’d said.
Fast forward a few years and I moved to Liverpool to study creative writing at university. “You just need a degree, any degree. So you may as well choose something you love,” my mum had said. After graduating, I had no intention of attempting to write a novel. Why would I? Nothing had changed. Despite being awarded a first class honours degree in creative writing, I didn’t believe I belonged in the talented-superhuman club.
A decade later, I joined a writing critique group. Two members were midway through writing novels. One was an accountant. The other was something else officey. They had no writing training (not that writing qualifications are needed to be published) but I mention this because despite having no writing background, they believed trying to get published was worth a shot.
It took me years to reach the stage where I was confident enough to give novel-writing a try. But one day, I just did it. Meeting published authors was what made the difference. I heard them say things like, “I compared myself to other authors. I never felt good enough. I feel like a fraud who will be found out one day.” That’s when I realised I could let go of the belief that authors are superhuman.
These days, I dedicate a portion of my life to becoming a published children’s author. I write and redraft, and I redraft again. The thoughts of not being good enough have crept in from time to time, giving me writer’s block and making me feel stuck. I find talking through my ideas very helpful, and I do EFT tapping to release the stress and blocks.
I’m not published yet, but I know I’ll be in print in the not-too-distant future.
As a creativity coach, I help writers untangle their story, work through blocks and carve out time to finish their book so they are one step closer to getting it into the hands of the person who needs to read it.