Over to Katey...
When people find out I’m an author, one of the first things they ask (after ‘have you written anything I’ll have read?’) is usually ‘have you always been a writer?’ I used to reply to this second question with a non-committal ‘not really’ or ‘only for fun’, but the more I thought about it, the more I realised that actually I have always written.
From a very young age I loved making up stories and poems. My mum, who would be the first to admit she’s a bit of a hoarder, still has notebooks crammed full of these earliest jottings. Thankfully, I don’t think any of the Take That fan fiction I later progressed to writing has survived!
Letter writing was an enormous part of my teenage years, and at one point I had around fifty penpals; some who I’d swap letters with on a weekly basis. We’d write page after page about anything and everything - our favourite bands, TV programmes, film stars, or we’d dissect football matches kick by kick. We’d talk about the people we had crushes on at school, or the clothes we were saving up to buy from New Look or Dorothy Perkins. We’d share things we’d never dare to say out loud, because somehow it was easier to write down our feelings rather than vocalise them. The art of letter writing encouraged me to find entertaining ways to share what was happening in my life, and looking back it definitely helped me develop my skills as a writer and an observer. It forced me to examine the world more closely.
By the time I started my book review blog Books with Bunny in 2013, I’d all but stopped writing letters. However, I quickly found the same skills applied to both disciplines – publishers wanted honest, engaging feedback and most of all, they wanted reviews to show a passion for the books. I enjoyed the challenge of finding new ways to convey my enthusiasm for reading and was surprised to find that as well as adding to my inexhaustible passion for reading, blogging also fed my thirst for writing. Knowing that authors, publicists and readers enjoyed my reviews gave me a confidence to explore my creativity. Instead of dismissing ideas, I believed they could become part of a bigger story. I started writing fiction purely for the joy of it, and writing for fun eventually led to submitting to publishers, which in turn led to Harper Impulse offering me a contract.
Childhood stories and boyband fanfiction, snail-mail letters and excitable blog posts – they’ve all brought me to where I am today. I still find it hard to believe my own novel is on bookshelves, that my words are making readers smile.
My advice to anyone dreaming of publication? Write widely, and write often.
It worked for me. I hope it works for you, too.
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