Back to the Beginning

I’ve always dreamed of being a writer. It’s always been there, lurking amongst the gossamer cobwebs in the recesses of my mind. One day, I’d say, I’ll write a book.

I wrote a lot of short stories in Secondary School, winning my school’s R S Thomas award for creative writing. I attended a writing workshop at Ty Newydd which was an amazing experience. I studied English and Education at Aberystwyth University and became really interested in Child Psychology. After graduating with a First, I was confused. What should I do now?

I ended up completing a PGCE course and became a Primary School Teacher. And so real day-to-day life began and my writing dream just seemed to drift further and further away.

It took a distressing period in my life for me to make the change that started me on my writing journey. My second son was diagnosed with Meningitis at 6 weeks old. I can honestly say that this was the most horrendous period of my life. I am so thankful that he made a full-recovery. It was after this time that I started to become restless … thinking how precious life is and feeling that I needed to grab opportunities and follow dreams – I know it sounds corny, but that’s how it was.

I wrote my first short story in years and plucked up the courage to send it to a writing competition, which offered optional feedback. I clicked ‘send’ then waited for the e-mail that told me that my writing was rubbish and not to leave the day job. To my amazement, my story was placed second!

There was no stopping me then. I churned out short stories and was placed or shortlisted in several online contests. But I knew that what I really wanted to do was to write a children’s book. I had returned to work by this time and started getting up at 5am to write my story. 12 months later, the book was finished. Now what? I thought.

I sent my manuscript off to Literature Wales who offer a critique service. The critique I received was invaluable and I set about immediately editing my book. Done. I then started thinking about submitting. Agents or publishers? I read the ‘Writers and Artists Yearbook’ from cover to cover and started lurking in my local Waterstones, looking at who was publishing what.

I came across Firefly Press quite by chance. They had recently launched at Hay and were releasing their first books. Something from the very beginning struck within me – I just knew that this was the publisher I wanted to work with. So I submitted. As the weeks passed, I told myself that it was good that I’d had the courage to submit and it didn’t matter if I didn’t hear anything, it was only my first attempt after all.

3 months later came the e-mail requesting the full manuscript. I screamed and ran into the kitchen.

‘I’ve done it. I’ve got a full manuscript request!’

‘Does that mean you’re getting published?’ my husband asked.

‘Well, no. But it means that maybe I’m doing something just a little bit right.’

Fast forward another couple of months and I’m supping coffee with the lovely editor and publisher of Firefly, trying my best to keep my bottom on the seat. We chatted about their ‘Dragonfly’ series and how they envisaged my manuscript fitting in. I left absolutely soaring.

Some edits later and a signed contract and ‘Grace-Ella: Spells for Beginners’ truly existed. I cried. I squealed. I danced. I leapt about. Luckily I was in the privacy of my own home, not at a meeting with my future publishers.

It is now a matter of waiting. The book will be illustrated, which is what’s being worked on at the moment. It’ll publish next year, I’m not certain of the exact date yet.

In the meantime, I have written an early-chapter book for 5-7 year olds and am close to finishing another young MG story. My biggest dream is to be able to write full time and although most days I despair that this will ever happen, I remind myself how I’ve already achieved one dream and that anything is possible as long as I don’t give up.

So, if you’re an aspiring writer and haven’t yet found the courage to submit, I hope this blog will give some inspiration. Believe in yourself and go for it!

Hwyl am y tro x

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