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Monday, November 13, 2006

Enid Blyton - and my other inspirations.

I was five or six years old when Enid Blyton came into my life. My Nan gave me my very first 'reading' book Come to the Circus, and from that moment I was hooked on both reading and Enid Blyton.

Nobody becomes a writer without first being a reader. By the time I was seven years old I knew I was going to be a writer "when I grew up." My first attempt was entitled The Secret Two, bearing more than a passing resemblence to Blyton's Secret Seven and The Famous Five!

At the age of 11, two major things happened to shape my life. The first was that my dear Nan died. For the first time I started keeping a diary, mostly influenced by The Diary of Anne Frank. Alas, I didn't keep it up for long. Some time afterwards I was also introduced to my first romance book, a Mills & Boon written by Anne Mather. For the first time, I began reading for escapism.

Within two years I'd hand-written my first 'real' story entitled The Hawaiian Dream. I still have a copy of my notes and the Holiday brochure I'd picked up from a local travel agents, to use as research and inspiration. No surprises either that my Heroine (interestingly named Charlotte - many years before I knew I would choose this name for my daughter) was recovering from the death of her beloved Nan.

By the time I was around sixteen I'd also become an avid reader of Catherine Cookson. I was awed by the fact that one of my school teachers had attended the same writers' group as Catherine Cookson (down in Hastings).

My other aspiration was to get married and have a family. I married at 17 years (yes, far too young - I know this now), and had my daughter when I was 20. My writing was put on hold.

In 1991 I went to see my first West End musical Joseph & the Technicolour Dreamcoat. Little did I know how much Joseph would become my motivation to try to achieve my dream of becoming a writer. Even now, when I listen to the soundtrack (Any Dream Will Do) it makes me feel quite emotional because it was the first time in many years since I'd regained my belief that I was 'meant' to be a writer.

Following a short holiday to Wales, my first Mills & Boon partial manuscript was born, entitled A Bid From The Heart. This was closely followed by my second, Word of Honour. Both submissions were rejected with what I now realise were encouraging rejections. The editors on both occasions asked to see more of my work, even though what I'd written so far hadn't been up to publishable standard, due to lack of emotional conflict etc.

I felt disheartened by my life in general by then and put my writing aside to focus on my two young children, and a necessary full-time job. Through a colleague I made contact with a former Mills & Boon Medical author Sarah Franklin, who very kindly invited me round her house one afternoon. She no longer wrote for M&B, preferring instead to write sagas under her own name of Jeanne Whitmee, but she provided me some much needed encouragement to NEVER GIVE UP.
It was Jeanne who sowed the first seeds in my head about writing for the Medical series, as opposed to Modern/Presents, who I'd targeted thus far.

Another few years passed and I sporadically returned to my writing - usually to submit short stories with a 'twist in the tale' to women's magazines. Rejection after rejection followed these submissions too.

Wow, this post has become rather long! For those who are still reading (!) I'll jump a few years and bring you to 2006. January 2006 I read a book by Rick Warren, entitled The Purpose Driven Life.
It was then all the missing jigsaw pieces fell into place. I am (and always have been) meant to be a writer. Writing is my purpose in life (as is being a Mother).

So here I am. Real-life still tries to stop me, but I know that I'm meant to write. I may not be published with my next book, or even the one after that, but I know one day I will be. Until that day arrives, I'll NEVER GIVE UP!

In case you're wondering why I've randomly written this long post, Sharon tagged me to blog about what inspired me to write. I therefore tag anybody and everybody who's read this far to write on their blog (or in my comments), what inspired them to write...


Gray said...

Thanks for the post, Sue :^)

It's nice to see that your influences are so varied. It's the same with me. Like you, I started with Enid Blyton, and I still adore this author. Although she's routinely criticised in today's world, I never tire of her endless adventure stories, be it the Five Find-Outers, the Famous Five or the kids in the 'Adventure' books (who can forget ISLAND OF ADVENTURE once having read it?).

I read huge amounts of books as a child. Anything I could get my hands on. My first books were picture books, the likes of SPOT and WHAT-A-MESS, then Enid Blyton. At the age of 11, I felt brave enough to tackle LORD OF THE RINGS and the COMPLETE SHERLOCK HOLMES STORIES, and I've loved fantasy and detective stories ever since! Stephen King saw me through my teenage years and English Lit GCSEs and A-Levels introduced me to the classics of literature, as well as Shakespeare.

So, by now I love EVERY genre of fiction (not so keen on poetry, with the notable exception of the World War I poets). I love fantasy, detective, crime, thriller, horror, historical - and now romance, too. There's just something about these genres - the 'what if?', the transportation to another world - that I'll never grow tired of.

So in a roundabout way, that leads me to wanting to write. I've written since I was about 7, when I saw a DR WHO episode (Sylvestor McCoy) in which a girl was trapped in a glass tank flooding with water. I copied the scene for my story, an adventure 'starring' me, along with my friends.

I've written on and off ever since, most notably a novella entitled INVASION OF THE DEMONS in my horror-loving period as a 14 year old. It saw my school invaded by nasties and pretty much everybody I know - fellow pupils and teachers alike - getting munched, aside from a few heroes (NOT me, surprisingly). This lasted an incredible 18,000 words and I still have a copy of it - it's extraordinarily limited and repetitive, but I get a kick out of reading it every few years.

So, here I am, getting ready to write a historical romance, and I can't wait. I feel my writing career is only just beginning.

Melissa Marsh said...

What a great post, Sue. I've blogged about how I became a writer, but I need to think about who inspired me...

Let's see...I'd have to say Carolyn Keene because I read every single Nancy Drew book out there. And I simply adored them. And Frank Baum. I read all of the Oz books.

I started reading Rosalind Laker's lush historical romances in sixth grade and that's when I wanted to become a novelist - she really inspired me to write my first historical romance.

Caroline said...

I loved this post.
You are a writer and I can't wait to hear that you are being published. It will happen - but you know that!
My first Enid Blyton was a pink hardback - I am sure that it was 'Come to the Circus.'
Fab post - really inspiring and genuine.

Sharon J said...

That really took me back. I can remember eagerly visiting the Co-Op in Stratford with my pocket money ready to buy the latest Famous Five book! I'm sure Enid has inspired many an author :-) Neither of my parents read and, strangely enough, neither did my grandparents, and yet Grandad still bought me books and read with me as far back as I can remember. "The Wind in The Willows", "The Lion, The Witch & The Wardrobe", "The Secret Garden", I remember us reading them so well.

One only has to read you blog to know that you're going to make it as an author, Sue. Your dedication and determination shine through and I for one will be queuing up outside W.H.Smith when your first Medical is relased.

Sue aka MsCreativity said...

Gray, isn't it amazing how much we learn about each other via blogger?! Thanks for sharing (((mwah))) ;-)

Melissa, I LOVED Nancy Drew too and the Oz books. We don't remember our inspirations often enough, do we? Thanks for sharing yours. :-)

Caroline, thanks for your kind words. Lovely that you remember 'Come to the Circus' too.

Sharon, I used to buy my Enid Blyton books from Woolies. It took me forever to get the set for Mallory Towers! Thanks for reminding me about TLTW&TW, and TSG. *sigh* So many wonderful children's books...
Aww... what a lovely thing to say, thank you *blushes*. LOL @ queuing outside W H Smith's. Best not come to our local branch then, 'cause they don't seem to be stocking them at the moment. :-(

Sue :-)

Jessica Raymond said...

I really liked reading this post, Sue :)

*Hears "getting to know yooooou" being sung in head*

I loved Enid, too -- my first attempts at writing were all stories in the vein of her books. In fact, I think I'm going to blog about this, too. You've given me food for thought!

Jess x

Sharon J said...

They don't stock them? Where do you go for yours? Asda? Tesco? I can't understand why more places don't sell HMB. Luckily our W.H.Smith has a really good selection so I'm guessing the people of Crewe like a good romance :-)

Sue aka MsCreativity said...

Yayy, Jess. I'll pop over to read your blog post - consider yourself tagged! :-D

Sharon, usually I do most of my shopping online. I'm one of these people who loathe paying extra for postage though, so I've just signed up again to M&B Reader Service to avoid it. Only trouble is I LOVE reading across the different lines, so I don't think this method is going to last - unless I change my subscription every other month or something. Hmm. I hadn't thought of doing that...

Sue :-)

Lynette said...

I loved Enid Blyton books as a child too, Sue. My favourites where: "Six Bad Boys" and "Those Dreadful Children", along with anything about The Famous Five.


Leo said...

This was incredible!
Thanks for posting. I love hearing about others inspiration. You truly are meant to write.

Anonymous said...

lol Sue. We have more in common than both being child brides. We both have daughters called Charlotte too! (and I was a rabid Enid Blyton fan, and read everything I could of Catherine Cookson!)

Sue aka MsCreativity said...

Lynette, it's wonderful discovering other Enid Blyton fans, thanks for your comment. :-)

Leo, thanks for stopping by. I love hearing about others' inspirations too - it's a good MeMe, thank you for thinking of it.

Christina, oh my goodness, we DO have loads in common don't we? Lol!! Thanks for visiting.

Sue :-)

S William said...

Great post. Found you via Melissa's blog.

Jessica Raymond said...

Hi Sue!

I've done my post. It's a bit long...


Jess x