Angela is now on her third Writers Bureau course. Almost all the articles she has written and sixty of her poems have been published. Read Angela's story below.
I’d been a child who often drifted into fantasy and this carried me through many tedious car journeys, helped me to sit quietly during my father’s rather long sermons and occupied times that I spent on my own. My brother, eight years older, was less than interested in his little sister’s girlish antics so I spent many hours amusing myself. I used my dolls as pupils and patients, became a builder of dens, and traipsed our rambling vicarage garden as an explorer travels the world, with my intrepid companion, a spaniel called Banjo.
What made me believe, then, that I could be a writer as well as a reader, that I could put on paper anything at all worth reading?
I think the idea was triggered by the birth of my grandchildren. From infancy they loved looking at books. Laughing at the amusing antics of loveable characters and enjoying the closeness that evolved between reader and listener. I had experienced this interaction during my years as a Primary teacher, and knew which characters and stories were immediately successful and would engross even the most fidgety of children.
Actually trying to create my own, years later, in an interesting and constructive fashion, turned out to be harder than I’d expected.
It was at this point that I became aware of The Writers Bureau courses, and the realisation that I needed the help of professional tutors in order to make a successful entry into the world of writing.
It seemed a massive step, at a mature age, to take on a Writing Course and, faced with all the reading matter and first assignment, I wondered what madness had thus inspired me.
The process also involved my mastering the complexities of a computer. At first, as a pianist, I felt far more able to control my fingers on the keys of the piano than I did on the keyboard of a computer.
But I persevered, appreciating the expert opinions and advice from my tutors and the confidence their comments gave me.
It is hard to accept rejection but amazing to achieve success. Being a writer is rather like riding a roller coaster, a continual journey of ups and downs that will occur whoever you are.
It was as I worked my way through the Comprehensive Course that I itemised one or two vital points. Firstly that I had sixty years of experience to fall back on; that an A Level in English does not manufacture good punctuation, and that having anything accepted for publication meant total perfection in presentation, boundless inspiration and the ability to interest over-faced editors.
I can’t express the elation I felt when my first article, The Old Apple Tree was published in the Yorkshire Ridings magazine in May 2003. I bought a shop full of copies to send to friends and relatives, and gained great pleasure from the pride that radiated from the eyes of my astounded family.
Since then, almost all the articles that I have written have been published, in a variety of magazines, and I’ve even won a few prizes including one in the FM News in May 2005. I wrote about Beatrix Potter and her purchase of Hill Top Farm in the Lake District. I had recently visited the hundred-year-old farmhouse, and this insight stimulated my writing for an article based on an anniversary.
But my confidence took a downward path as I moved on through the fiction section of the course. My many short stories became multi-travelled, returning home having found nowhere acceptable to settle. However some have been published, even winning prizes.
It must have been inane bravado, a feeling that I could do no worse that carried me into enlisting for The Art of Writing Poetry Course, and I surprised myself by thoroughly enjoying it.
With material vetted by my tutor I gradually started to submit poems, to poetry magazines and other competitions. I was amazed that they found favour with editors and out of 92 poems written so far over 60 have been published. I’ve also won prizes and am beginning to fill a wall with my certificates.
Two “spin-offs” have occurred from this course. Our church in Pontefract needs to raise a huge amount of money for a very exciting regeneration scheme. I decided to put together an anthology of poems and found an editor willing to publish it. Many copies have been sold, the rest have their place on a bookstall in church. I have been thrilled with the reaction of people who have read the poems and feel I’ve added my own small donation to this vast project.
Secondly our church organist approached me to ask if I would write the libretto for a musical piece based on the evacuation of Dunkirk. It was to be performed in memory of his father who had been one of the soldiers lucky enough to survive. I eventually, after research, wrote the words to Harold’s Drum, which was performed by a choir and orchestra the day before Remembrance Sunday last year. I felt very emotional when I heard my words sung to such melancholy and emotional music and gratified that it was really well received.
Now, on my third course, I look back on my doubt with amusement, at my successes with amazement and my future writing with excitement. I am currently working my way through the Biographies, Memoirs and Family Histories Course. I have planned a book about female composers and written the first chapter. I feel almost like a peeping Tom, delving into the lives, loves and ambitions of a number of women who were once just a number and now seem, like intimate friends.
Although writing is a solitary activity, being read by others is its primary objective and the opinions of the reader are a vital stimulation for the continuation of a writer’s enthusiasm.
I end with a quotation by Sharon O’Brien, author and Professor of English, at Dickinson State University, North Dakota, USA, in which she expresses her feelings at the start of each day.
“Writing became such a process of discovery that I couldn’t wait to get to work in the morning: I wanted to know what I was going to say.”
"The course has helped me write a story that evokes strong emotions; the constructive but motivational feedback I received from The Writers Bureau has helped me knock down the barriers to self-doubt. Recently, I held my first book launch where I talked about how and why I wrote my story."