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Patricia Holness, Devon

Patricia Holness

Pat's course helped her to structure her approach to writing. Now she writes full time and has a regular monthly column in Devon Life.

Once upon a time there was a woman called Patricia, only people called her Pat (amongst other things) for short. She wanted to write a story about a toy belonging to a small child, but she had no idea how the toy might look, or whether it was a girl toy or a toy boy – sorry – boy toy.

To be brutally honest, what she really wanted was to have a carefree time, skip merrily through the preliminaries, write lots of super duper stories quickly and easily, send them off and have them not only published but made into a successful TV series, complete with all the accompanying paraphernalia like books, video games and T-shirts.

She fancied she was on her way!

Pat dusted off her passport ready for when her fame hit Europe, the USA and the Rest of the World. In her new-found enthusiasm, she was certain it wasn't going to be long before everyone realised how brilliantly she shone.

Hey ho! But strangely enough it wasn't quite as easy as all that.

Pat's initial pizzazz melted like ice cream in a microwave and would you believe she sometimes didn't even feel like writing. This children's story writing was hard work. So she tidied her study instead. She ate lots of chocolate and made coffee six or seven times a day. She visited the loo a lot. She even became an expert at solitaire on her computer screen. And while all this was going on and the children's stories were going nowhere, Pat wasn't a sweet, cheerful, fulfilled person.

"You're getting us down," said her family and to be honest, Pat was getting herself down too. What to do? Suddenly she remembered something she had seen in the Writing Magazine, a superb publication to which she subscribed. She decided to get some help. In no time she had switched off the kettle and the solitaire and contacted the Writers Bureau and sooner than you can say "This time it's for real," she had enrolled as a student. The course wasn't expensive, in fact it was amazingly good value. Imagine her delight when, not many days later, a large blue folder was delivered to her door with all her assignments for the course, Writing for Children. Immediately – and without stopping to put the kettle on for coffee this time, she began to read and was soon completely immersed. In no time she was back at the computer turning out assignments, her head full of the fascinating and useful information she was absorbing. A patient and knowledgeable tutor was assigned to her, who assessed her work, encouraged her where it was due and advised where necessary.

The course went well. Sometimes Pat sent in her assignments by email and sometimes by snail mail, but no matter which method she used, the reply, together with the next exercise, arrived swiftly and safely at her home – even though Pat was well aware that she could take as long as she liked to complete each module.

Then something strange happened.

Instead of putting off her writing each day, Pat couldn't wait to begin. She even gave up having a full cooked breakfast each morning and to save time, settled instead for cereal and tea.

Then something even stranger happened.

Pat thought about what she was learning from her Writing for Children course and realised it applied in other strains of writing too, such as articles and short stories. She set about writing an article for grown-ups. In fact, she wrote several articles for adults and sent them to a glossy magazine called Devon Life. Not only were her articles accepted, but soon Pat was offered a regular monthly column in the magazine.

The writing 'bug' had really got a grip on her now and she began to write short stories for grown-ups as well as for children. She sent off these stories and was delighted when one of the children's stories came back with a positive comment. No one had said good things about Pat's children's stories before and she opened a bottle of Champagne to celebrate.

Her family began to like her better! She liked herself better too!

Then life became more exciting still when one of her short stories was accepted.

Now this has happened, her family are proud and her friends read her column and her short stories. She has retired from radio presenting and writes full-time.

Best of all, Pat's grandchildren love to have her children's stories read to them. So whether the stories make it to publishing or whether they don't, she's learned a lot thanks to being a Writers Bureau student.

Most important of all, she has a love of writing that she never had before and it's going to last a life time.


Theresa Gooda Writers Bureau's Student of the Year 2021

“I began my first Writers Bureau course (Comprehensive Creative Writing) in 2007. Having more than covered the course fees from published pieces I have never looked back. Initially my ambitions were to get going. I knew I wanted to be a writer, I just didn’t know how to go about it, or, if I’m honest, quite what I wanted to write. Since, I have gradually blended a teaching career with writing, first with articles and short stories, then increasing the writing commitment dramatically when I secured an agent in 2016 to ghostwrite a series of memoirs. This year I have undertaken The Art of Writing Poetry course to really hone my skills in what I now realise is a genre I love - and have already had my first poems published.”

Theresa Gooda - Writers Bureau Student of the Year 2021

Read Theresa's full story

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