Today I decided to tidy up my desk as it was becoming difficult to find anything under the piles of paper, notebooks, files and other detritus. I was in filing mode and thought it about time that I created a system for all the old notes from a Spanish class that I had attended several years ago. So I reached for the old briefcase expecting to find them. The memory is a strange thing. It was not Spanish notes that I found tucked in the dark recesses of the briefcase. No, inside were copious notes that I had taken during my first writing class.
It's strange how life has a way of meandering along, twisting and turning in often unexpected directions. I joined the writing class by default, as the painting group that had been beckoning me was full up. Glancing around the hall that was packed with eager to learn people, I noticed a stand in the corner that announced "Writers' Workshop." It was as if some unseen magnetic force pulled me towards it and, with trepidation, I asked the tutor if she had any places left. Part of me wanted her to tell me that it was indeed full but she smiled and announced with a flourish,
"There's one place left - and it's for you!"
Excited by this news, I asked her what we would be writing.
"It's a memoir group."
"Oh." I tried not to sound disappointed. "Not sure I can write a memoir."
"Of course you can. Just bring along 1,000 words about one of your first memories." Her encouragement was touching.
"I can't really remember anything before the age of five." Maybe it wasn't too late to back out.
"Can you remember your first day at school?" She asked.
"Yes, it was awful." I shuddered at the ghastly memory.
"There you are. Write about that."
And so that is how this writing journey began. I sat in front of my computer, the blank screen as scary as a canvas before the paint is applied and started to type.
Within seconds my mind was taken back to that first day at school. I could smell the Dickensian corridors and almost feel the terror of being deserted in this red brick prison. Then there was the memory of those disgusting school dinners, which had to be finished - or else. The writing flowed and there was no looking back after that day. I was hooked.
Amy, an American with a zest for life, led the memoir group. What an amazing experience it was to meet her and other like-minded people as each week we shared our stories from earliest childhood right up to the present time. It was with sadness that we broke up for the summer and Amy took a job. I continued writing and finished the memoir; a tome of about 150,000 words. It was only when I realised that it would probably not get published as I was neither famous nor notorious that I decided to tackle a novel. And there lies another story.
Tea at Sam's is that first novel and Making Scents is the sequel. Both are available as paperbacks and e-books. If you like short stories and poems, then check out Petals in the Sand - available as an e-book, and if you are very busy or commuting, then try Stories to Go (ninety-three very short stories) available as a paperbacks or e-books.