Our chat with Vanessa…
Life then got in the way for quite a while. Having children and stuff that was going on. I kept ignoring it apart from the odd poem or story I would write to cope with everything. However, I did a lot of different types of writing when I set up my own business after my divorce. I wrote software manuals, newsletters, press releases and wrote for the property pages of the local newspaper. On the quiet I would still write poetry and occasional short stories that no one ever knew about.
When I was taken ill writing poetry to deal with some of the issues became even more important to me. It wasn’t until I went to university that I had a chance to write for children though. When I did it was like someone had switched a light on in my head. I felt so at home writing for children. I have no idea why it hadn’t occurred to me before. The stories just kept flowing.
The most daunting was making the decision to give up on my PhD novel and move onto Flight. It was definitely the right decision, but it was also quite frightening in a way as it was the first time for a long time I had written something that hadn’t got an academic framework supporting it. Imogen Cooper and I had a conversation where she suggested that I write something new. She voiced everything I was thinking for which I was hugely grateful as she gave me the permission I needed to walk away.
I was able to carry on because of Imogen’s faith in me but also the exciting prospect of being able to write whatever I want.
As for un-published authors. Keep going you never know when it is going to happen. Flight is my fourth complete novel. You must keep writing and understand you never stop learning. Joining groups like BI-SCBWI is important as well as making the decision to invest in your writing if you are serious is vital too.