The Life Of A Writer, Lots Of Hard Work And A Little Inspiration
In all honesty I really don’t feel that I chose to become a writer, I think it was more of a case of it choosing me. Something reached across the sky and touched me and that was it.
As a child I enjoyed writing and at the age of ten or eleven I started to write my own poetry. But coming from an impoverished working class background, brought up in a bad part of town, I was expected to get a job doing some sort of manual labour getting my hands dirty. I left school with no qualifications and had learnt only to read and write, that and how to survive living in an urban jungle.
For the following thirteen years I went from one dead end job to another, busting my guts for very little in return. Then at the age of twenty eight, tired of my life going nowhere fast I decided to do something about it. For three years, after a hard days work I went to evening classes to study English language and literature, just to get enough qualifications to go to university. Finally, in 1981 I went to do a degree and recover my long lost education. It was the best thing I had ever done.
In 1984 I graduated with an excellent degree and looked forward to developing some sort of professional career. A friend had tipped me off about a job at an ad agency as a trainee tv producer. When I got to the interview I found that the job had already been taken. However, the creative director offered me the position of trainee copywriter. I initially turned him down, having somewhat more artistic pretensions, like writing a play or something like that. I told him no and was about to leave when he said “ I haven’t told you the pay yet, sit down please.” I stayed stood, until he told me the day rate, which was more than I had earned a month three years before. I sat, almost fell, down immediately.
Within six months my work had caught the attention of another agency and they called me and asked me to head up their copy department. I accepted. A year after that I was head hunted by another agency and offered the position of creative director, which again I accepted. It was all a far, far cry from going home going home exhausted and covered from head to toe in the muck and grime of a grease monkey with only pennies to show for it.
Then I took a big leap and went freelance after being head hunted yet again by the UK’s biggest regional newspaper. My hourly rate, working for private clients as well as the newspaper, was insanely high and on the back of it my wife and I moved up the property ladder to a half million pound house. A beautiful Jaguar XJ12 was parked on the drive and life felt pretty good. Then it all came crashing down due to an economic crisis and I lost all my clients, my career, my house and my family. Of course I kept up what little writing I could, but I shifted the emphasis to other fields like teaching, music and acting.
Fast forward, and here we are in yet another crisis, and here I am trying to get my writing career back up to speed. I am enjoying it immensely. Things have moved on somewhat I have to say, but the basics of writing haven’t. Yes I now use a keyboard instead of a pen and paper, though I do still tend to scribble out my ideas on paper. Sometimes the ideas come so thick and fast my keyboard typing skills can’t keep up. With a pen and paper I can dash all my ideas down in seconds, then use that paper as my plan and get typing. Its nice to see my articles getting published on Illumination and I hope to move forward from here on.
Am I earning a living from it ? No, but I will, I just have to stick at it. Can I give any aspiring young wannabe writers any tips ? Just get as much education as you can to develop your technical skills like grammar for example. Write as much as you can, all day every day if you have to, and you can. Try to find your own voice, write as you speak. Try to get your personality across. Above all learn to tell a story, because in the end that is what writing is all about, telling a story, whether you're trying to sell a pack of detergent on tv or entertaining a group of young children or adults. Be inspired and inspiring. Get your head down and work it like a job. It’s not a hobby, it’s what will one day put food on the table and pay the rent. You have to be a disciplined self starter and in it for the long haul, because that is what it will take to make it as a writer. One day I will be living the dream once again.
You are your own greatest resource in terms of topics and themes. All the great artists, like Van Gogh did self portraits. You yourself is what you should know more about than anything else. Use your life experiences, your professional life, your social life, your domestic life, that’s a massive amount of material you have right inside of you, you don’t need anybody else. Learn to send a bucket down into that well and haul it up full to brimming with ideas. At the same time, try to be inspired by all that's around you, a street light, that you've never seen before, a scarecrow or a view from the window. Try to see those things in a different light. After that, just stick at it. Don’t ever give up.