Our chat with Julie…
But somewhen over the years, I came to (mistakenly) believe that a kid from a council estate couldn’t be an author, and so I didn’t try. I never forgot my dream though. It followed me into my forties. By then I no longer believed I couldn’t be a writer. I enrolled in night school to study an English A-Level, and from there took writing course after writing course, cheered on by six-year-old me.
The ‘I’m sorry to inform you letter’ was hard to take. It felt like my writing dream was over, before it had even begun. But the wonderful thing about dreams is no matter how much cold water we pour over them, they never go away. Not really.
I picked myself up and resolved to try again. I spent the next 18 months following my favourite authors. I read their writerly tips and bought tickets to their events. I became a reading partner at my local school and enrolled on writing courses. I poured all the tips and every bit of feedback into my writing.
The second time I applied to Bath Spa. I got accepted. And that’s when I learned something important: Rejection doesn’t mean No Forever. It only means Not Yet.
Their excitement for the story, reignited my own, which after four years of writing was beginning to flag. The best feedback I got was from a pupil in Year 6, she said: the first time I read your opening chapters I thought they were okay. But after you edited them, I thought they were ‘proper gripping, miss.’ I’ve been smiling about that ever since!
In my twenties I drifted away from reading. It took an epic fantasy adventure to re-ignite my imagination. This time it was The Abhorsen Trilogy, by Garth Nix. Those stories brought me back to reading, and eventually to writing. If you’d like to know how, you’re welcome to read my blog on SCWBI’s Words and Pictures magazine.
The thing is, if we play the game long enough, we will reach the end. If we can learn from feedback and keep rolling the dice, the game won’t be over until we are.
Keep writing. Keep learning. Keep going. And most importantly, be kind to yourself along the way.