I've always wanted to be a writer - not just any old writer - a full blown novelist. No newspaper articles, no weekly coulmns - no I aimed high. I wanted the glossy paperback at the number 1 section in Easons. The esteemed, respected and awed novelist. Jet setting, premiere attending, award winning, designer gown wearing... Get the picture?
I recently came across my Confirmation scrapbook which I had filled in when I was a sweet and naive 12 year old (actually not much has changed in terms of the naivety and sweetness - just a touch more healthy cynicism now). I glanced through the hopes and dreams section of the scrapbook where I had etched out the deepest desires of my 12 year old heart: "I want to be an author, like Marita Conlon McKenna" (who was my absolute idol and writing muse at the time but i've had many more loves since then - I don't believe in monogamy when it comes to authors - soz Marita!).
I was one of the those children that always entered the "Write a book" competitions in school - it was an early introduction to rejection and heartbreak as I never won. Not once. In fact, my 5th class teacher used to hand out awards for "Best Writer" and "Best Spelling" every Friday and I never won those either. I remember coming home to my mam with tear streaked cheeks wailing that the dyslexic boy had won best writer and I hadn't while my parents tried to reassure me that I didnt need certificates to tell me how good I was. Hmmm, yeah right, not so easy to swallow when you're 11 years old, about a foot taller than the tallest boy in the class with a unibrow to foot. As if life wasnt fair enough already, I was destined to be the next VanGogh or Picasso - not appreciated in my own time. The horror!
The love of writing and the dream of being the next Dickens never waned though and it stayed with me from childhood through puberty and into young adulthood. I had toyed with the idea of studying journalism or English literature in college but my unwavering need for financial stability led me into social work (that decision and my subsequent career is a whole other days writing!)
College filled me with inspiration - social work is a tough profession (it still is, 3 years post qualificaiton) and escapism is vital in order to survive with your sanity intact (well maybe not intact). I witnessed children dying in ICU, carried out home visits in some of the roughest flats in Dublin's inner city seeing horrific child abuse cases and watched as people's lives fell apart with mental illness.
Jesus i paint a bleak picture! I love my job, I really do, but as you can see if you don't escape into your own world from time to time, it's hard to manage and survive.That's why my books are a break from reality, they're not too serious, gritty or hard hitting. They're a break from life and they mainly centre around my favourite tag line, the question that opens so many amazing, imaginative opportunities: "What if....?"
So I decided to write this blog to document my journey as i attempt my greatest feat so far - finishing my first novel. I'll update regularly and sure, it won't always be pretty, it won't always be easy but stick with me and we'll see how far we get.
Oh and don't worry, you can all come to the film premiere when my as yet unpublished manuscript is made into a motion picture! Dare to dream!!