Why do so many authors start publishing books relatively late in life? Often because they’ve been programmed by well-meaning but misguided schoolteachers into believing that writing isn’t really a career. Sue Johnson shares her story of why she’s glad she found the courage to bring out the author trapped inside her – a story that we’re sure will chime with many indie and self-published authors.
I have written stories and poems ever since I could write. I remember ‘that’ lesson at school when the teacher asked what we wanted to be when we grew up. I said I wanted to write stories and draw pictures. The teacher’s face turned a sort of mottled purple. She said:
“I don’t think that’s a proper job do you dear? You’d better write about being a nurse.”
My interest in poetry died when I moved to my High School. Mrs Penny made up for her lack of inches with a beehive hairdo and stiletto heels. Her voice was razor sharp as she said:
“If any of you feel like messing about I have to tell you I’m very good at handing out lines and detention.”
We learned the poems she set us, terrified that we’d forget a line and incur her wrath.
30 Years On…
I started taking writing seriously again in my late thirties and tried to book onto a novel writing workshop at my local library. It was full, and so I reluctantly enrolled on the poetry one. It exceeded my expectations. It was magical. The tutor, Carole Burns, taught me to see poems as little stories or short films that could grow or shrink like something out of Alice in Wonderland.
That workshop marked a turning point for me – and I also met the man who has been my partner for the last eighteen years!
Since 1st January 2013 I have written a poem a day every day. Some of these poems have evolved into flash fiction and short stories. Also, I recently discovered that each of the eight novels I have written have at least thirty poems connected to them that explore characters, settings and scenes.
I’ve also written a book with the aim of helping and encouraging other writers. I feel I am lucky to be doing work that I love and very much want to encourage others along the same pathway. I have given information about six word stories, flash fiction and short stories. There are also fifty two ‘starting points,’ each with three exercises – aimed at taking away any excuses for not writing! I also give ideas about where to send work and where writers can find further information and help. I aim to have as many pieces of work in circulation as possible (currently 50) as it stops me worrying about rejection.
My overall aim is to encourage other writers to grow and recycle their words, develop confidence and have loads of fun experimenting with new ideas for poems, flash fiction and short stories. It will also help anyone suffering from writer’s block as there are lots of opportunities to play.
My overall aim is to encourage other writers to grow and recycle their words, develop confidence and have loads of fun experimenting with new ideas for poems, flash fiction and short stories. I also want to take away any excuses for not writing, no matter what your teachers might have told you!
It’s never too late to start writing or to become the author you’ve always wanted to be.
OVER TO YOU How instrumental were your schoolteachers in making you the writer you are today? Did they inspire or discourage? We’d love to hear your anecdotes!Why you shouldn't let schoolteachers deter you from your #writing ambitions says @SueJohnson9 Click To Tweet