When I first started out writing seriously, I received a great deal of free information and sometimes personal help from established writers. Both Nicola Morgan and Catherine Ryan Howard were particularly welcome, with their blogs on the subject of writing to be published or self-publishing.
We all had to start somewhere, which is why I’m ready to spend some time encouraging new talent and today I have just such a person here. Di Horsfield is a lovely lady I had the good fortunate to meet on Facebook and she has subsequently, due to my non-stop nagging, got on with her literary career.
Welcome to the Bingergread Cottage, Di, grab a seat, kick Titch off the sofa, he shouldn’t be up there anyway. There’s home-made jam tarts (blackberry and apple jam, one of my finest) and you can help yourself to tea or coffee.
So tell us a bit about your background. Where are you from? Biggest achievements in life? Anything you feel like sharing.
It’s lovely to be here Ailsa and thank you for the tarts and coffee. I adore home-made jam in any guise.
I am a Yorkshire girl born and bred. (I know you’d never believe it from my accent would you?) I still live on the street where I was born and have no intention of ever moving. When my kids were little, (they are all grown up and living their own lives now but are still very local so we get to spend lots of time together) they could play put from dawn to dusk because everybody knew everybody and we all looked out for each other. It’s still a very close-knit community but as with everywhere, faces change. I love the rural setting and regularly have cows who have escaped the adjoining field, eating the plants in my garden. We’ve had sheep, horses, ponies, geese, and peacocks as visitors but now it’s just the cows that come to call.
I know it’s a cliché but the biggest achievement in my life is my kids. They’ve grown into wonderful adults who will do anything for anyone, have open minds and hearts and are fabulous parents. I was rather impressed with myself for passing my driving test age 27 and for getting two A levels when I was 30. Both were things I never dreamed I’d achieve.
I have recently found out one of my short stories will be included in an anthology to raise money for Alzheimer’s disease. I can’t believe my piece will be alongside those of some very talented writers, including yourself. This is the first story I’ve had published that I will be able to share with my parents. The other bits I’ve had published are, shall we say, colourful in the hue of blue. I’m not the least bit ashamed or shy about saying I have, and occasionally still do, write erotica, it’s more to do with not being able to get my head round the fact my parents may read erotica. Parents don’t do that sort of thing do they?
Sniggers and looks over at Cameron Oh no, we’d never write anything erotic, would we, Bro?
So, now, you’re writing. I think you used to write in the past, didn’t you? What happened.
In October 2008 I started with some very odd symptoms. I saw my GP expecting to be told it was my age, a fresh bout of depression, (I was diagnosed with bi-polar disorder in 2002 and had to leave my job as a social worker) or even that I was imagining it all. But instead I was referred immediately to a neurologist and after three months of tests, in April 2009 I was told I had Multiple Sclerosis. Not only that but I had a rare type. (If you’re going to have something, have something weird!) It hit hard and fast and \I became quite disabled quite quickly. There’s nothing I can take or do to slow the progression though my symptoms are pretty well controlled. My worst symptom is fatigue. When the fatigue fairy gets annoyed with me, she whacks me with her tiredness stick and everything goes on strike. I needed to spend time grieving for what I’d lost. I’d no longer be able to run the marathon I’d planned to run with my son to mark my 40th birthday; the hiking holidays my husband and I had planned to take when the kids all left home were not going to happen and the quite times we would sit together in our dotage would now be filled with my husband caring for me full time.
Once I came to terms with the fact that absolutely no-one knows what’s around the corner and our lives are ours to live as we see fit, I decided I’d not let MS be my jailer. I have to take a lot of things into account and we can’t do anything on the spur of the moment, but I have wonderful friends who laugh and cry with and at me, who never judge or criticise but are always on hand to offer help and advice. They helped me get back into writing. I find it very hard to concentrate so rather than getting totally stressed and annoyed with myself fighting with THE novel, I took to writing shorts. I have not exposed the world to my stories though I have shared a few with friends. Then a certain lovely lady persuaded me to submit to the Alzheimer’s anthology and hopefully, the rest may be history!
Are you glad you started again? What have you done recently?
I am beyond pleased. It’s so hard to put into words. I started a poem but can’t get past the first stanza. (I don’t do poetry much) but it puts my feelings about writing quite well even if I do say so myself.
I want to write
I need to write
It’s a passion, compulsion greed.
That’s as far as I’ve got, but one day I’ll get further.
I’ve recently written a piece that was inspired by one of my friend’s Facebook status. She’d seen a man in a car and didn’t think he was breathing. She went over and scared both herself and the car’s owner half to death. I also wrote a rant on the semantics of an advert on British TV for a very well-known brand of e-reader. Both these may be making an appearance in the not too distant future on the story reading ape’s blog.
I’m also working on a longer piece, but have fallen out with it at the moment so will go back to it in a few weeks and see whether I really dislike it and assign it to the scrap heap or whether with a bit of tweaking and twisting, it might turn out OK.
And can we expect to see more from you in the future?
I hope I never stop writing again, whether anything will be fit for human consumption remains to be seen. I don’t believe any of my ramblings are worthy of publication, but thanks to the likes of yourself, Nettie Thompson, Colette Caddle Chris Graham and others who have encouraged and supported me I am taking tentative steps towards being a published author. Who knows, I might even consider putting together an anthology of my own scribblings but any of the colourful stuff will be under a pseudonym. Can’t have my dad knowingly reading my stuff can I?
Ailsa and Cameron both snort into their cups.
I seem to have emptied your coffee pot and eaten all the tarts. I am sorry but they were so delicious and I’ll get the brush and clean the crumbs I’ve spit out talking with my mouth full!
Oh that’s OK, Di, we’ll do that later. Thanks so much for coming to see us and we’ll expect you back when your first work is published. Deal?