It can be a scary leap… I remember doing it. One minute I’m a student and wondering what I’m going to do in the world and then I have my own business. At first I drew animals… and I loved it. Making toys had been my hobby but people started asking for them. And I found myself a toymaker.
In fact my twitter account is still @the_toymaker and probably always will be – even though it is a strange name to have for being a writer and artist.
Then there was the massive leap. The jump that took my breath away. I stood at the edge of a metaphorical cliff and I simply stepped off it.
My hand was forced I guess. I had been suffering from headaches and it turned out that my eyes were not reacting well to all the machine sewing. My optician had simply looked over her glasses and informed me that there was a reason seamstresses had gone blind. I had a decision to make. Do I carry on and cope or do I stop and find something else?
I had no idea what at the time but I was noticing that I had begun to tell more stories. I would tell them to anyone who stopped long enough to listen. I didn’t write, I spoke them. I love stories and I just couldn’t help it. I had to tell people.
Write them down, my mum said.
I had shaken my head – silly. I couldn’t write! I was too badly dyslexic. But my hand had been forced. My eyes were too bad to go straight back to drawing so I had to do something.
I decided to go for an evening class. I had never been taught a vast amount of English language. Or if I was – I just didn’t understand. So the complexities of writing down stories was a mystery.
I went to the evening class.
I wrote a story.
Try getting it published in this anthology, my lecturer said.
I got published and I had to go to the launch and read. Another jump. One that I shook through with nerves.
But still the written word was something I didn’t understand completely. I needed to know more. My business was slowly being shut down so I decided to go back to uni. Relying on my degree in Archaeology I applied to do an MA in creative writing.
I got in.
I got the MA.
There were issues with my reading level and other problems but I got past them. I’d jumped and landed fairly well.
After the MA I started writing as a business. I was no longer a toymaker but an author. I got a publishing deal with an Australian Publisher.
I decided to publish some work myself – jump. It was a steep learning curve. My eyes started to recover and I started to draw. Not animals though. Instead I was drawing people. Portraits. Another jump – I hadn’t drawn anything in 6 years.
This year my jumps have been just as scary. I have started going to book fairs and talking to readers. In fact, on the 1st October I will be in Carmarthen. And I am drawing – seriously. I draw for galleries and I love it.
My life is a series of jumps. Sometimes to get over a small bump in the road and other times it is stepping off a cliff. There are loads of different jumps, each is scary but each I can’t help but grin just before I take the leap.
Jumping can give you a buzz… I just hope the landing is soft.