I could make a case for saying my writing career began when I was at primary school (see pic) but those were those distant days when creative and writing didn't occur in the same sentence. Besides, I played the piano. That was a proper talent and therefore required developing. Enough of this writing lark.
Hmm. The trouble was, I couldn't actually stop writing. I enjoyed it so much. Music was work, writing was play. For decades I messed about in the writing sandpit turning out buckets of poems, sketches and ill-formed stories. Then something momentous happened. About fifteen years ago, I was given an old computer. It was slow, took floppy discs and waiting for the dial-up internet connection was tortuous. One of the programmes already loaded however, was Mavis Beacon's touch-typing course. Yes! I absolutely loved it, and while I've no doubt that having a pianists hand/eye coordination helped enormously, the repetitive daily practice soon fixed those keys in my mind.
I felt amazingly happy at my new keyboard, watching words appear from my fingertips instead of music - don't get me wrong, I love that too - and that instead of a notebook full of scribbles, I had something that could be actually printed onto A4 paper. It looked neat and tidy. Why, printing was next to publishing, wasn't it?
That big heap of paper in the picture below is the first draft of a novel. It doesn't look like the sort of thing you buy in a bookshop though, does it?
Oh dear. What a lot I had to learn. How does anyone learn? Well, firstly, I bought a book. Books were great. I'd taught myself how to play chess, grow roses and raise ducks from books. David Lodge's The Art of Fiction was, and still is, brilliant for lots of things, but it didn't help me construct a good story and it couldn't comment on my own writing.
Being in the teaching profession, however, albeit in another subject, I knew that the very best thing I could do to further my writing ambition - which had burgeoned considerably with every word I typed - was to find myself a good teacher. But where?
What they did next...
Scroll down to find out about our previous winners.