‘I want to be a writer when I grow up,’ said a child version of myself.
‘Don’t be silly, love. They have people who do that sort of thing,’ replied the responsible adult.
I believed them, as children do, despite the fact that The Manchester Evening News had printed my stories and poems on its children’s page.
Over the years, I discovered that writing was under my skin and however unsuitable or unlikely a profession, it was an itch that had to be scratched. I resisted making it my day job for a long time; it wasn’t for people like me. But whatever else I did, those characters kept tramping through my quiet moments and their stories filled my head, shouting to be heard.
I did my best to capture them in a haphazard way, hoarding bits and snippets in snatched moments; in the cracks of spare time which opened up in the life of a busy working mother. It always felt inadequate and I was sad about it.
But still the stories came, growing as wild flowers will do, in the cracks between the paving stones, nourished by life experience. And this is where I got lucky. My ‘day job’ centered around developing the creativity of artists, because, from unpromising beginnings, I had forged a graduate and post graduate training in drama, dance and filmmaking.
Through my work in the Arts, I began to understand more about ‘creativity,’ about where it sits nudging us, cajoling us to open up to its extraordinary power.
I learned the difference between product and process by working with brilliant practitioners across the arts.
I learned, how the seed of an idea is watered by creative tools and harnessed to technique in order to develop it into a painting, a dance, a film, a set design…
I learned how to respond to feedback and refine the work, to make it even better.
And I learned how to stick at it and keep trying.
Could I apply these Creative Tools to my own writing and take it from the mundane and haphazard into something valuable?
In 2011, serendipity stepped forward and forced my own creativity into the centre of my life. In the torrid cull of arts funding which followed global economic meltdown, I was made redundant. Liberated from a secure income, I could answer the call of my own creativity; place it at the centre of my life and let everything else dance around it.
The child version of myself did a little jig of triumph.
I left the country, became a full-time writer, wrote The Art Forger’s Daughter and developed a series of workshop programmes to share my experiences with like-minded people.
I could finally become one of the people who do that sort of thing.
Late in the day? One thing I learned; it is never too late.