I Owe Everything to a Box of Enid Blytons

I’ve said on my profile page that I knew I wanted to be a writer when I was seven, which sounds like the kind of thing all writers say, but I can say exactly how I first knew that, with sound, historical facts to prove it.

From a young age, I loved books. I can remember making up my own stories to the pictures in my Ladybird Fairy Tales before I could read the words. I remember getting gold stars for my story writing in school. I remember being fascinated by a book my mum was reading, a Catherine Cookson novel with the intriguing title Slinky Jane. I even got my first typewriter for Christmas when I was six. But I don’t count these vague, anecdotal memories. The real turning point came when I was seven, when I discovered Enid Blyton.

I can date it exactly, because in 1980, just after my seventh birthday, my family moved house. The previous owners of our new house had been a family with teenage sons – I remember viewing the room that was to be mine, which was decorated with a life sized skeleton. Knowing that young children were moving in, this family left behind a box of books which those teenage sons no longer wanted. There were a lot of Enid Blyton books, including a nearly full set of the Famous Five books, in well-read 1970s paperbacks. Being the precocious child that I was, I immediately began to read them. I remember being a bit confused during the first book I read – I knew that the Famous Five comprised of two boys and two girls, but I hadn’t understood that George was not a boy, and had somehow decided that Julian was a girl called Gillian! But I persevered, and read another (number eight, incidentally, Five get into Trouble. I never read them in order!), and that time, every fell into place. And I was hooked. I read my way through them all, delighting in the stories and also in my own ability to read these big, proper books so quickly. But more importantly, I read them with a growing consciousness of the process of creation behind the stories, an awareness of the author at work, an understanding that it had been someone’s job the write these books. And I knew then that I wanted to do that too. Part of me wanted to be one of the Famous Five, but another part of me wanted to be Enid Blyton.

And so I began. From that age on, I was forever scribbling stories, mostly Enid Blyton style adventures featuring myself and my school friends, often with illustrations too. I wish I still had some of those notebooks, but they are lost forever. But that desire to publish my own books, with my name on the cover, was never lost. I might have grown out my Famous Five obsession, but I never grew out of wanting to be a writer. Thank you, Enid Blyton. And thank you to the family that left that box of books.

I Have a Website!

Well, when I wrote my first (ever) blog, I was lost and confused. Now I have a website! Not only that, but I set it up all by myself. Thank you WordPress. I may be a Luddite, but I can follow instructions, and thanks to the ten-day tutorial course, I have a website that looks a lot like I imagined it would look. It’s not finished – it still needs a few more photographs, and there will be some more content to add in the future, but I am so pleased with myself.

Adding more content means doing the work that I have been putting off while I have been creating the website. I have a list, starting with two really big editing projects. The aim is to get two new items on KDP by the summer. But all this is old work, and I’m aware that I haven’t written any new fiction for a while. I know all the editing and marketing is work, and just as vital, but I can’t help feeling that it’s getting in the way of the writing. I really want to have something new on the go before September, when my other “new project” begins – nothing to do with writing and a big distraction in the shape of a career change. I feel it will be easier to keep going at something already begun than begin something new in what could be limited free time. There are one or two ideas bubbling below the surface, and I tell myself that I am waiting for one of them to grab me. I’m quite sure something will – it’s always worked in the past – but time ticks on. I can’t believe it is April already. Still, launching my website is a big tick on the list of things I wanted to achieve this year. Well done me.

Becoming an Author

How does one become an Author? If it’s just a question of writing some stuff, I’ve been doing that since I was eight years old, so does that make me an author? Bookshops and bank managers might beg to differ. No, I think becoming an Author means turning your writing into publications. But I’ve done that too, via the miracle of KDP, Kindle Direct Publishing, who are now making my novels available to Kindle owners, thanks to a few simple steps and up-loads. But is that enough to make an Author out of me? So it takes more readers than friends and grannies to make an Author, which means marketing and promotion. Ughh, this is why Publishers exist, to do all that hard work. But Publishers are not easy to come by, so I must do the work all by myself. And that means setting up this website. My own website. With my name on it. All done by little old me, a technical Luddite.

So far, I’ve written three novels for adults and one for children, and that was the easy part compared to this. If only I had spent less time writing and more time swotting up on computing.