Originally published 29/09/19
When I started writing in 2014, I never imagined where it would lead. All I knew was I had woken up with a story I needed to write.
Writing that first story consumed me. Page after page, word after word. I didn’t know where the story or even I were heading. My marriage was falling apart, I was on a collision course with the bottom of a pit that would tear me apart when I landed. That story became my escape.
I hit the rocks on Christmas day 2014 in the Sydney home I shared with my ex-husband. My marriage was over and the only thing I could do for my children and myself was pack our bags and return to New Zealand.
No income, no savings, and five suitcases on my parents doorstep. The hardest lesson of my life. My mum and stepfather took me in without hesitation, even moved into a bigger place. They’re like that – do what you have to do to support family. I could never repay them enough. Those first months were spent doing a lot of reflection and initial healing, my writing became even more important.
When the children and I finally found our own home, it was an apartment above a shop with a leaking roof. We had our beds, simple donated furniture, and basics from my parents. However, I have fond memories from then, no TV, one laptop. By day I wrote, by evening I read aloud while the children played with Lego and colored in. Their reading levels increased, my youngest learned to read. I also became more determined to write the stories that were now competing for space inside my head.
In 2016 I returned to school. Terrified, I had never writen critiques or essays and I couldn’t imagine myself passing the Level 5 Applied Writing Diploma. But I sat at the computer every day, determined to do my best, because I really wanted this. The characters in my head demanded I give their stories a voice.
I passed both my Level 5 and 6 with straight A marks and proved my self-doubting voice wrong. I cannot tell you how good that felt. That voice of negativity still likes to haunt me, and somedays it feels louder than anything, but I don’t let it rule the way I used to. I even returned to work through my Level 7.
This hasn’t been a solo journey, from Gem who told me to keep writing because she wanted to know more – after she read that first very badly written manuscript – to my family and friends who supported me as I studied and then edited and published Heartbeat and Take Down.
A special thanks has to go to my sister, Mel, who even though she doesn’t normally read thrillers, has read countless drafts and listened as I bounced ideas around, and my friend, Jamie, who does beta reads for me and helps pick up many typos and little issues that slipped through the editing process. I truly do have the most amazing friends I could ever ask for.
While my journey as a writer continues to grow, I hope to inspire others to dream big and never give up, just as the many writers I followed into this journey inspired me. I’d love to hear from anyone who has taken the time to read this. Comments and feedback are always welcome, it’s how I grow as a person and a writer.
Until next time, take care