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Morecambe, Lancashire, United Kingdom
In the mornings I’m a Nursery Cook, the rest of the time a Writer. Been writing for decades: short stories, plays, poems, a sitcom and more recently flash fiction, Creative Writing MA at Lancaster Uni and now several novels. Been placed in competitions (Woman’s Own, Greenacre Writers and flashtagmanchester) and shortlisted in others (Fish, Calderdale, Short Fiction Journal). I won the Calderdale Prize 2011, was runner-up in the Ink Tears Flash Fiction Comp & won the Greenacre Writer Short Story Comp 2013. I have stories in Jawbreakers, Eating My Words, Flash Dogs Anthologies 1-3, 100 RPM and the Stories for Homes anthology. My work’s often described as ‘sweet’ but there’s usually something darker and more sinister beneath the sweetness. I love magical realism and a comedy-tragedy combination. My first novel, Queen of the World, is about a woman who believes she can influence the weather. I’m currently working on a 3rd: Priscilla Parker Reluctant Celebrity Chef. Originally from West Midlands, I love living by the sea in Morecambe, swimming, cycling, theatre, books, food, weather, sitcoms and LBBNML … SQUEEZE!

Sunday, 8 February 2015

Seven Reasons why I’m not a Proper Writer

I struggle calling myself a writer. People say if you write you are a writer. I certainly write but am I a writer? In my Twitter bio I call myself a nursery cook & writer. Many people could call themselves a cook because they cook at home but they don’t get paid for it. But I can call myself a writer even though I rarely get paid for it? Every month, as a part time cook, I earn a little under my ‘grand’ total of money made from writing … since 1986! See my problem? I can’t deny the activity that brings in the regular money I need to live on. However, recently a work colleague said writing was ‘a nice hobby’ for me. Yeah, okay …

I don’t write every day. This is what we’re ‘supposed’ to do. There are SO many rules. Sometimes I write for hours, other times I don’t write for days or weeks but I’m still thinking about writing. When & how much you write is a personal thing, based on your own circumstances & the amount of time available. I’m beginning to think that, ironically, all these rules are for people who are failing to write but are just reading & talking about rules. Maybe this one should been called ‘I don’t follow rules.’
I don’t like coffee. One writer I follow on twitter only ever seems to tweet about coffee. It seems to be something a writer needs to function. I just don’t get it. I think coffee’s horrible. I have a theory that everyone else thinks it’s horrible too and that the Emperor’s wearing no clothes (while he’s drinking his coffee). Look, it’s just a theory. Oh, drink your coffee!  

I’m not cake obsessed. This is something else I’ve picked up on Twitter. The idea that if there’s cake involved in an event or activity the writer will turn up. Cake’s all right I guess if it involves chocolate. For me cake is work. I make a large quantity if it’s on the menu at the nursery. What I really like is crisps and/or anything cheesey. What WOULD make me turn up to anything is the chance to read. Getting to read will banish all thoughts of food from even my mind.   

 I have no desire to go to a writing retreat. When I got a small shed for outside storage in my garden I told Twitter and was asked if it I was going to write in it. How embarrassing. It wasn’t that sort of shed. I live on my own (can’t imagine anyone wanting to live with me) and my desk is in the bay window of my living room. What would be the point of me sitting in the shed?
Writing retreats look lovely. Beautiful surroundings in the form of a large old house or a sea view, and lovely food. You could have great chats about writing and nice walks but I’d think of it as a holiday and I doubt I’d do any writing. I discovered at uni that writing something there and then in front of others was hard, if not impossible. So maybe, apart from getting up at six in the morning to catch two buses across town to cook for about seventy people, my life IS a writing retreat.

I don’t understand what a muse is. I’ve never understoood what this muse that some people refer to is so I looked it up. The muse is ‘the true speaker for who the author is merely a mouthpiece’. Hmmm. No, I definitely haven’t got a muse. It’s just me and my brain. Yes, we sometimes wonder where stuff comes from. The subconscious is at work here. Many times I’ve realised later where I got a particular idea, event or concept from but often you never realise.

I’ll leave the rest to the words of a true genius …
‘We humans got it all. We perform the miracles’


I’m not suffering enough. Some writers seem to be suffering for their writing. Blood, sweat and tears? Oh yeah. But none from writing. From my thirty-plus years as a cook? Yes, all three. I worked at one place for four years till I ended up wanting to lie on the floor and weep. But that’s another story. A don’t-get-me-started story.
The thing is, I enjoy writing. The whole lot. Having ideas and thinking about them, writing notes and first drafts, reading, editing, polishing, submitting, being edited and even getting rejections. After years of not getting rejected because I wasn’t sending anything anywhere, it means I tried. I don’t want to be imagining where I might have got if I hadn’t given up. I won’t give up trying. Why should I? Even if everyone is better than me. Actually, I no longer think that.

As I write this, the full manuscript of my second novel Fast Talking is being read by an agent. A little nugget of hope to carry around again. Maybe there’s some suffering to come. I may even go mad and try coffee and cake.

And I’ve started the third novel …


1 comment:

  1. Having read some of your work, I can assure you that you are most definitely a writer! I think the rules (even the coffee one- yes I love it) are annoying because the rules are: there aren't many rules after all.