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You’re never too old…to write!

December 20th, 2013

A couple of years ago I went back to writing. I had only written a little in the past, but not regularly, and I had never had any stories published or entered any competitions. The catalyst for this writing bug was losing my son in 2011, when he was only twenty-seven. I’d read Dawn French’s ‘Dear Fatty’ and loved the way she wrote this autobiography in the style of letter writing.

So, I began to write a letter to my son, telling him all the things I wished he’d known and informing him of everything that had happened in the year after his fatal accident. It was a chatty letter and to do it was therapeutic. I wrote entirely for myself and no other reason but I became hooked on writing.

I decided I would like to start a new career as a writer, even though I was over sixty. I thought of the cliche, you’re never too old to start again and immediately I thought of the opposing phrase, you can’t teach an old dog new tricks! It didn’t take much for me to err on the side of never too old, so out came the notebook and pencil – for important note taking and I took some time trawling the internet looking for competitions and courses. I even bought some new reading glasses, the kind I thought an author might wear. I was playing the part!

I entered a few competitions for short story writing, was shortlisted for two and then won twice in a small internet writing competition. I was on a roll – for a while at least. But I realised, although I knew what to do I didn’t really know how to do it.

I wanted to take a course and looked around to see what I could do either online or in Italy. There was a residential course at Arte Umbria running for a week. I couldn’t manage the week, but I was able to join the group for one day. The novelist Sue Moorcroft was tutoring the course. It was great to meet other writers and like-minded people who wanted to talk about writing ALL the time. I forged friendships, I loved it and it spurred me on. I was sad to leave at the end of my day.

Apart from being older, which isn’t always a hindrance (see below) living in Italy is a bit of a problem because where I am in Le Marche there are no writing groups, workshops, reading circles – nothing. Although not at the moment – starting something is on my “to do” list. Virtual groups are okay, but actual is so much better.

In October, on my new friend (I met her in Umbria) Helen Yendall’s blog I saw the competition to win a course with the Writers Bureau. The challenge was to tell a Halloween story in only 140 characters. I tried really hard…spent ages cropping, cutting, thinking of ideas, playing with words and it paid off. Yippee! I was lucky enough to win.

So here I am at the beginning of the Fiction Writing Course and encouraged by my tutor’s comments on my first assignment. I hope that by this time next year I will be able to call myself a writer, by profession. I feel positive and rejuvenated. As soon as I sell my first story or article I’ll be blowing my trumpet here at the Writers Bureau.

Writing as a mature person (in body only, the mind is still juvenile) is a double-edged sword. I’m retired so I have more time to dedicate to my writing. I have a wealth of experience to draw on for inspiration. I’ve traveled a great deal, been married, had children and now a grandchild. There are a few disadvantages though; the short term memory is not so good; spelling eludes me sometimes; I haven’t enough time to procrastinate (I prefer to say ‘think’) so I get on with things. I’ve got a lot to get down in a much shorter time than my younger colleagues but, if I’m lucky, I still have time for at least five novels, a couple of plays, a film script, hundreds of short stories; some poems…and…

Crikey! Is that the time? Better get on.

Thanks to Ninette for the above post and I’d just like to wish all readers a Happy Christmas and a peaceful and productive New Year.


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