A brief introduction – how I became a writer – Part 1

Me with my hand in the bran-tub

Me with my hand in the bran-tub

Having ‘helped’ the dog with his blog for the last 7 years I thought it was about time I joined in. What I intend to do with this ‘Me and My Writing’ blog is tell you more about my work and in consequence more about me – the two are inseparable. I will try to keep it light and varied and will post on a fairly regular basis as time permits.

For those who don’t know me I became a full time writer in 2005 after a 20 year business career. I had written for work and pleasure long before that. I grew up surrounded by books, in a family who threw quotes at each other for the sheer pleasure of shared love of literature. I also grew up reading the local papers and had a deep affection for both the Oadby and Wigston Advertiser and the Leicester Mercury.

One of the inspirations which has lasted throughout my life has been the birthday card given to me by my sister when I was no more than about 10. It was a strange card to give a child, but then I was a strange child! There was no picture just the words ‘Do not follow where the path may lead, go instead where there is no path and leave a trail.’ The words are sometimes ascribed to Ralph Waldo Emmerson and sometimes just to ‘anonymous’. Whoever said them, they are words which have inspired me for the many years since and the card sits in a frame in my office where I can always see it.

I took the words to heart and promptly started a school newspaper, of which I still have a copy dated about 1977.

My writing for more than just pleasure started when I was about 16. We had a talk by the then editor of the Leicester Mercury, Laurie Simpkin, and at the end I there was an opportunity for Questions.

“Why don’t you cover more youth activities?” I asked

“Come and see me in my office and you can write for us.” He said, I’m sure never expecting to see me again!

At the first opportunity I got onto the bus into Leicester and asked to see the editor. However surprised he was he didn’t show it and was as good as his word. For the next two years I submitted a number of reports for which I was paid by the line. Or at least I would have been paid if only I’d understood the process for claiming my lineage charges, but in principal it was on a paid basis.

Sadly, I didn’t see that as the start of a writing career and, for want of the courage to follow a low paid career which I knew not the first thing about, I went to university to study law  and then became a chartered accountant. Having qualified I looked around at options. I wanted to work with a product I could identify with so where better than to apply to Cadbury’s. Sadly, I was too late and the job I applied, via an agency, for had already gone. However they did know of a position I might be interested in, Assistant Financial Director of the Leicester Mercury. They didn’t tell me I was younger than the advert asked for and didn’t have the experience, but once again that didn’t stand in my way. I was going ‘home’.