When and how did you start writing?
I don’t remember not writing. I learnt to read and write and didn’t stop doing either. The first thing I wrote of any note was a poem about a ruined house that my teacher entered in Horwich Literary Festival when I was 12. I remember the winner some private school kid reading out her poem in a posh accent. It put me off a bit. I carried on writing but just stuff for family and because I felt writing was what “posh people” did.However the poems fall out of my head and I can’t stop them so I have a bank of poems that until a few years ago I shared with no one.
What inspires you?
I write about anything at any time. I write a lot about family and memories, but to really get me going give me something I feel strongly about (There’s a lot of this I’m very opinionated.) Human Rights, injustice, the environment, will all set me writing.
What writing advice have you been given that really helped you?
“Write what you want to and because you want to.”
It’s no good writing to keep people happy, you will learn to hate it. Others may not like what you write but they don’t have to read it and their opinion is just that, an opinion.
How does being part of writing groups help you?
The writing groups I belong to are supportive and positive. I wouldn’t stay with them if they weren’t. I have even shared things from my must not be shared file. These are poems about people and events that could get me arrested or at least make me a suspect if anything happened to the protagonists. These groups have given me confidence and got me through the rough patches, I imagine all writers have when the road is not smooth. Having others who understand the days when writing is not a happening thing is invaluable.
What do you consider your greatest writing accomplishment?
Just sharing what I do, which could not have happened without writing groups and friends nagging (They call it encouraging.) me to share what I write.
And which was your biggest challenge?
Getting over the idea that writing was a quirk in my personality that no one was interested in and I should keep secret. It has taken a while for me to see that if you write it’s because you are communicating something and that means sharing it.
What’s the best thing someone has said about your writing?
My family are as far from effusive as you can get, so my Mum saying about a poem, “That was good.” outweighs anything anyone else could say.
Has a book really touched you? Made you rethink your views on life? If so, what was it?
As a teenager I read “To Kill A Mockingbird”. It rang true with all the values I had been raised with and reinforced the emerging understanding that we have to stand up for what is right even when no one else does. I love the character of Scout and that feeling that she never quite fits in anywhere. That she is consequently outside, looking in on the story.
What would you do if you didn’t write?
I don’t think that could happen. My brain works the way it does and even if I couldn’t write on paper or a computer I would still be writing in my head.
What is your ultimate dream as a writer?
To write a poem that stops people in their tracks and gives them that moment where they are inspired to do things differently to make something better.
What advice would you give other writers?
Have fun and enjoy it. Play with the words to make them do what you need them to.