Let This New Year Be Your New Beginning
HAPPY NEW YEAR!
I hope that 2009 will bring you good health and happiness. If you’re an aspiring author, let this be the year that you achieve success in publishing terms. And if you’re simply in need of a little love and understanding, may you find it where you least expect it. Read on . . .
DARK DAYS & DASHED HOPES
I was a young woman when, in the early nineteen eighties, I put pen to paper (literally) to form the first draft of what was to become my first book. Those were dark days for me. My marriage had ended in an acrimonious divorce; I had three dependent children, and their father had stopped paying maintenance; I couldn’t sell my house – large, damp and unheated; and I could find only part-time work.
A LITTLE LIGHT ON THE HORIZON
But I’d always loved reading and writing. Brought up on the premise that "children should be seen and not heard" I’d spent much of my early-years in the attic of my parents’ large, London home, where my father’s books (dust-collectors!) had been banished by my mother. Between learning great chunks of Shakespeare, Tennyson and Wordsworth (little of which I now recall) I would write plays, which my cousins and I would then perform, on a stage draped with blackout curtains, with our parents the enforced audience. Later, spurred on by my father’s interests, I turned to Argosy short story magazine (in which H.E. Bates aired The Darling Buds of May) and honed my writing skills on their Creative Writing Course. By the time I was fourteen, I had acquired my first rejection slip for a short story about the ghost of a puppy and a haunted house.
SPOTLIGHT ON THE PAST
My next encounter with the publishing world was as secretary to Paul Gallico, famously author of The Snow Goose and the oft televised Poseidon (a new version of which is to be televised on BBC1 at 10.40pm on Friday 2nd January). Later, much later, I studied Interior Design. But much as I revelled in the concepts of lighting and spatial awareness, it was the essays that grabbed me. The conveying of ideas on paper is one thing; the art of persuasion, of mood, of sentiment, of engagement with another human being, quite another. And I loved it! Until marriage and motherhood brought a temporary end to my writing endeavours.
A GLIMMER OF HOPE FOR THE FUTURE
But the passion that lay dormant within was never extinguished. It simmered, gently, throughout the early, happier years of my marriage; and it was poured out in a great tide of hurt, self-pity and self-reproach as they disintegrated. Writing thus became cathartic. And when it had done its job of healing and re-energising, it became a means of helping others – and in doing so, helping myself, as well. "Comforting others with the comfort I had received," became the process by which I grew – in confidence, in wisdom, in knowledge and in faith.
THE WARM TIDE OF SUCCESS
So I remember, with great warmth and gratitude, all those who helped me to get my first book published – back in those ‘dark ages’ of the nineteen-eighties. With a No. 4 Bestseller under my belt since then, I’m still aware that without the encouragement and support of all those lovely people, I might never have made it.
TOUGH TIMES BARRING THE WAY AHEAD?
Perhaps some of you may be encountering tough times in these days of economic hardship? Perhaps, like me all those Christmases ago, your marriage is under stress, your job under threat, your home as cold and damp as was mine? How are you to face the future? Does the thought of waking tomorrow, with the whole of 2009 before you, fill you with excitement? Or does it loom above, with a sense of dread?
OR PORTALS OF HOPE TO BE OPENED?
I don’t believe in New Year Resolutions. But I am a great believer in optimising potential. We’re all given gifts in some measure or other. It’s just a question of finding them. And using them. But just as happiness is a by-product of something else, so – often – is healing and wholeness. Using our gifts will bring us little in the way of satisfaction if we do so as a means to an end. It is in using our potential for the benefit of others that we will find we have stumbled upon our own satisfaction and pleasure.
POUR IT ALL OUT ONTO PAPER
You may already have an interest in creativity – in writing; or you may have none at all. At this stage, that is irrelevant. In remembrance of those who helped me, I want to encourage you to take the necessary steps to ensure your chance of happiness and success in this coming year. Take up your pen, your trusty typewriter, your computer keyboard – and write.
Write about anything and everything. Write about what you ate and drank over Christmas. Write about how you felt then – and now. Write about your innermost secret places: your fears; your terrors; your shame, your failures. Write about your hopes and your dreams. List your good points and your bad. Articulate your sorrows, choosing each word with care, so that it becomes, for you, a friend who understands; who comforts. Compose rhyming couplets. Make a prayer of who you hope to be; what you hope to do. Speak it out to the God who made you, who loves you, who yearns, like a lover, for you to know fullness of life. Invite him into your life. Tell him you love him. Allow yourself to love yourself. Just as you are. Let this New Year be your New Birth. Let this Rebirth be your New Beginning.
KEEP WHAT YOU'VE WRITTEN. I SHALL BE FOLLOWING ON WITH THIS IN THE NEAR FUTURE.
Photograph: Early Morning, From Our Garden
HAPPY NEW YEAR
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