I don’t know about anybody else reading this, but I never dreamed of being a writer when I was growing up. In my early teens, I was desperate to be an archaeologist, or more specifically an Egyptologist, of the swashbuckling, Indiana-Jones mould. After that phase, I toyed with the idea of being an astronaut, a fashion designer and an artist. The turning point for me in deciding to pursue a legal career was witnessing, first-hand, the everyday impact of injustice which seemed to flow from the lack of knowledge or inability of an ordinary layperson to traverse the legal system. For it is large, opaque and intimidating to the majority of people who never have to enter into its fold; people sometimes find that the thought of having to give evidence in court, or more generally to seek justice for wrongdoing, is so off-putting that it is more trouble than it is worth. For these reasons and more, I developed a genuine desire to learn how to represent others, or, to put it another way, to speak on behalf of those who cannot speak for themselves. Given the recent changes to public legal funding in the UK, I feel there is even more need for people to be heard and for them to have adequate representation.
For one reason or another, the legal world was not all that I hoped it might be and I found myself becoming increasingly disillusioned. For, an idealist lives inside me, who should be more of a realist. That way, seeing the powerful corporations become more powerful at the expense of others would be less of an ongoing affront.
As it is, life events intercepted, allowing me to take stock and consider the direction I was taking. I resented this, at first – the stubborn mule inside me rebelling against the enforced break which motherhood demands, as an example – but once I settled into it, I realised that my son had given me more than the gift of his presence in our lives. His advent had given me the space to think. In those peaceful quiet times (few and far between, as any mother will tell you) I was able to really be introspective.
My conclusions were interesting. For years, I had proclaimed myself ‘free as a bird’, never one to follow the pack. What a load of tosh. I had followed the pack, meek as a lamb, all the way through my secondary and higher education. I had followed through with years of legal training and handed over more years of my life to various employers. Yet, I found that I did not regret those years, for they taught me much in the way of diplomacy, strategy and tolerance. Essentially, though, I had restricted myself to using only the logical part of my brain, allocating no time for any creative spirit. I found that there were stories swirling around there, in the depths of my mind, which might need to be told.
Oh, go on, then, I thought. Life is for living.
As I have discussed elsewhere, change doesn’t always happen overnight, but it can be a wonderful thing when it does. Today, I woke up to the news that my first book, ‘Holy Island’ is top of the Amazon Bestsellers UK chart, managing to oust several books which have had the benefit of expansive advertising campaigns across the country. It can’t last, nothing does, but…
Yay, for self-publishing and self-belief!
Anyone else reading this who would like to make changes but are fearful of rejection or failure, I refer you to that most excellent 90’s film, Strictly Ballroom: a life lived in fear is no life at all!If something is hard-fought, or hard-won, then it will be all the sweeter in the end. If there is negativity along the way then it is to be expected, chalk it up to human nature (in my case, I was exceedingly surprised to find that this can come from fellow writers: did your mother never tell you that you never get ahead by bringing others down?). But remember, for every negative person, you will find another five who are warm-hearted and positive, wishing you well. That is the very best of humanity.
See you next time.