A few days ago I received an email from a woman who told me that one of her dreams was to become a writer. This interested me, because a lot of the people I meet tell me that they want to write a book.
Some want to do it because they have a powerful story to tell. Others because they are creators and artists. Other people have seen the success of writers like JK Rowling and long to experience that sort of fame, fortune and accomplishment.
It made me think about my journey with writing.
I decided that I was going to be a writer when I was 5 years old. I’d just written my first ever story … a sequel to the Miffy book I was reading at the time. After that books began to flood out of me. “The Fat Princess”, “How New York Became” and “The Salmon and the Swordfish” were just a few.
When I was 16 I had my first work published; a poem called “Clan”. This poem I had written when I was 14 and a year later sent it to a man called Alan Dearling, who was putting together books about modern day travellers. At the time I was spending a lot of time with a group of travellers and loved their culture of freedom and self sufficiency (perhaps my dream of living in a gypsy caravan hadn’t faded as much as I thought.) Probably unaware that he was publishing the work of a 14 year old, (sorry Alan!) he printed the poem on the back page of his second book “No Boundaries.”
After I left school to follow my dreams of being a writer, I realised that to make money I would have to produce what the publishers wanted. So I began. In vain. For eight years I struggled to write short stories for women’s mags, catchy chapters for agents, novels for children and adults. I wrote and wrote and mailed these writings off. I collected so many rejection slips that I could have wall papered an entire room in them!
Now I look back I can see that my writing then wasn’t “mine”. I hated it. I was constantly creating from a place of neediness, from the desire to gain acceptance, of publication. And this desire was powerfully interconnected with my need to find approval from others … and myself. Each time I wrote something and sent it off, the silent plea that accompanied it was “is this good enough? Am I good enough?”
The response was always the same. “Your work doesn’t fit our lists at this time.”
Finally, age 23, I had a break through! My first children’s novel – Skeleton Beach – was accepted for publication. Six months later a second book – Eggaporting to the Amazon – followed. Both were based on stories I had written whilst curled up in Mum’ s stock cupboard and after that, my life and writing took a completely new direction. My dream of writing success was fulfilled, yet on the day I received the first printed copy of the book, my dad died.
My life was turned upside down. It was like being on a crazy bus ride, lurching and leaning at every corner. The only thing that kept me from falling was my old connections to spirituality and personal development. As time passed I began creating new books – nonfiction – around this subject. I sent these manuscripts off to publishers. But this time, rather than getting photo copied rejection slips, I began to get personally written ones! These said, “Bethan. We love your books. We think they are worthwhile, contemporary, comprehensive and inspirational. HOWEVER, without a high media profile, we would not be able to make a success from publishing your work. Come back when you’re well known.”
Since that time I decided to start pestering the publishers and now I write books by hand. I won’t follow the rules of how a book should be. I like to make spelling mistakes. I like to cross things out. I create books not to try and get them published so I can “be a real writer”. I create books because I am a writer and I will write and express what delights me. Never have I felt so grateful to the Universe for what I do. Never have I felt so loving of everything that dances out of my pen. Never have I felt so in the flow with what I am supposed to be doing.
Do you want to become a writer? This is what I have learned …
• Write to delight yourself before anyone else! Write the sort of book that you would love to read. Write to share from your heart – not to get recognition or approval.
• Go back to your childhood roots. Who were you? What did you dream of? What did you love? As a child you are so much closer to the Truth of Your Self. There are clues to your creative destiny in what you loved back then.
• Write every day. Don’t try to write into a box. Write whatever comes to you and structure it later. You’ll know when you’re writing the right thing, because it will make your heart sing when you think of it!
• Let go of riches or fame or praise. Trust that your life will naturally grow richer and more promising simply by engaging your heart and creativity.
• As Brenda Ueland declares in her classic book, If You Want To Write, “Everybody is talented, original and has something important to say.” We all have stories, ideas and understandings that the world needs to hear. Don’t hold back because of insecurity or limiting beliefs about your ability. When your message is passionate and true, your gorgeousness will shine through.