Lily very kindly offered me a guest spot on her blog with a free range to talk about anything – so this is what I have come up with.
I am a writer. I never thought I would say that, as I feel like it’s something only published writers should say. But it’s what I do, every day, all the time.
I often think, maybe I shouldn’t do this, maybe I am a terrible writer who has no imagination, and this is just a massive waste of time. But then, I find I need to write something, a small poem, a piece of flash fiction in the back of my diary late at night. And therein lies the problem. I NEED to write, I can’t help it, even when I had a ‘proper’ job, I was always doodling poems, or ideas down in meetings, whilst all around me they talked about service levels and employee retention...Yawn…
I think, any writer would say the same, it is a compulsion. An itch you have to scratch.
My Dad was a writer, he wrote as much as he could while he worked as an Insurance Inspector and then when he retired, he finally wrote his book. He was prolific. He wrote plays (I personally think this is where his talent really lay), poems, pantomimes and short stories. When the grandchildren arrived, he wrote beautiful little stories with them as characters within them. He was an inspiration to me. When I was at university and after, in olden times before mobile phones, we would write long meandering letters to one another about the minutia of our lives – I was usually asking for money amongst the other drivel I spouted! Or we would send postcards. I used to send him postcards with cats on, as he was convinced our family cat was trying to kill him, because he – the cat – used to sleep halfway up the stairs. He would send me Winnie – the – Pooh postcards as he was Pooh to my Piglet (he also used to call me Prune-ling… I never found out why). I don’t think I have a single postcard or letter with Dear Jane as an opening from him!
When we were children, we were encouraged to read, I have no memory of learning to read. I just remember being able to do it, it was something I was good at, so I kept at it and spent a lot of time in our small village library. I quickly moved from the rather limited children’s section to the adult section. I ended up reading things that I shouldn’t, far too young – it was highly enlightening.
Dad would also constantly quote things. He would sing Goon songs all the time, a particular favourite was ‘I’m walking backwards for Christmas.’ He was a big fan of Spike Milligan. He could also recite the whole of The Jabberwocky.
The first time I really realised the dementia was taking hold of Dad was when he forgot who Spike Milligan was.
I have digressed, ending up not talking about me, but about my dad instead. I think, that is another one of those writer things. We may draw on our own experiences, but we don’t want to be in the spotlight, so we shine the light elsewhere.
Being a writer is tough. I have worked hard all my life and eked out enough savings to take time out to follow my dreams with a lot of support from my family. I don’t get paid and live within a tight budget. I dream of the day when I will have a best seller, but that day may never come. As a writer you must be realistic and resilient to the hundreds of rejections you receive and willing to expand your scope. Recently, I co-founded and online literary and creative arts magazine with two friends (https://makarelle.com/), and I am also working on a collaborative poetry project trying to create a novel using poetry with 6 other poets – both of these things are expanding my skills. At fifty-three I am constantly trying to learn more and educate myself; I feel like I only know a fraction of what I need to become a great writer. And that’s my mantra, keep learning until I get it right, and somehow, some way, with good luck and a following wind my opportunity will come.
Jane Langan writes fiction and poetry and is currently working on her debut novel. Her anthology of poems – Blood Kisses – is available now.
Jane has been shortlisted for a number of writing competitions and been published in several magazines. Besides writing, she enjoys photography and tap dancing. She has just completed an MA in Creative Writing. You can see more of her work on her blog: http://howilikemycoffee.blogspot.com/ Or Google, Muddynosugar, where you will find Jane on social media. https://www.instagram.com/muddynosugar/ and https://twitter.com/MuddynoSugar