So it was at the University of Edinburgh that I found out I was stupid. I was studying English Literature and Philosophy though I was more interested in the English and thought Philosophy would be an interesting side issue. It all started well enough and I got merits for first year. My tutor was quite nice. Second year was awful. I got bad marks for every essay however hard I tried and the tutor was unapproachable and unhelpful. I was probably spending too much time with my first serious boyfriend who dumped me anyway the following year. Due to the bizarre system employed students with marks below 60 % were not allowed to proceed to honours. So I hadn’t failed, couldn’t retake but could not do honours English. So I had to do Philosophy. Though my interest in it was minimal it seemed to come easy to me. I was gutted and internalised my stupidity for a very long time – probably about twenty years.
On graduating I felt I was too much of a failure to go for a prestigious career like journalism or publishing so I chose teaching and enrolled on a PGCE. So I taught for a very long time in various schools all round the country in both England and Scotland. At times I enjoyed it. The intelligent children with a gift for writing were a joy. They were rare. Mostly it was slog. I started lackadaisically but over time I really threw myself into it and tried to be the best teacher I could be. I did get better but my behaviour management was usually not the best. In fact I worked so hard I gave myself a grade A nervous breakdown and had to give it up.
During the university and teaching years I hardly wrote apart from diaries and journals. There was no time. I was permanently exhausted and always had work for school to do in the evenings. I still read as much as I could.
My way out of breakdown and depression was to start to write again – fitfully and painfully with huge breaks and then spurts of activity. Pearlcasting was the result – a novella. It took me two years because I didn’t write every day. I had no discipline, no schedule, no plan. I wasn’t sure if it was any good. I sent it off to agents – thirty-two to be exact and to date I have received twelve rejection letters. This leads me to doubt my ability of course like many others before me.
I noticed on Twitter – a lifeline of connection for me during the dark time – that lots of authors were self-publishing. I took courage and uploaded my book to Amazon with their Kindle Direct Publishing tool. It was an amazingly easy process. I used a formatting guide that I bought on Kindle and the layout worked perfectly. I have only had the book out a couple of weeks and sales have been minimal. I was amazed though that some people who didn’t even know me took the time to write a review. They seemed to have enjoyed it. This gave me much joy. I did a free promotion for five days and many more people downloaded it. So though I made no money at least people were reading my words.
So I still don’t feel like a proper writer. I am not one of those people who works from 9 to 5 or through the night or some other very worthy writerly habit. I am fitful. I wish I could have managed a proper book deal like some old university acquaintances have. I feel they are proper writers and I am improper but I have started on the road. I am still an amateur but I have achieved something.
I have started my second book. Who can know what the future holds? Not me.