Saturday, 12 January 2013

Life as a Writer

Today I'm taking part in a blog hop. The theme for posts is "Life as a Writer". 

My life as writer started when I was little. I was always making up stories and absolutely loved all the creative subjects at school. I remember when I was about 8 or 9 years old being given homework to make a book about an endangered animal. Mine was a non-fiction about panda's (one of my favourite animals). The whole book was in the shape of a panda head and the cover art was his face.

I also remember another similar project where we had to write a picture story book. Mine was about my pet rabbit "Bumper". In the story she ended up having an adventure in the washing machine.

I enjoyed these projects so much I started doing my own just for fun. My very first picture story books and the start of a life long love affair...

Having been told when I was younger that I'd "never make a living doing that kind of stuff" I had various different jobs over the years including a bit of everything from working in clothes shops and restaurants to credit control. I was even a tour guide for the Colosseum at one point.

In 2006 my life changed. I sent off my first article to a newspaper and got accepted. They printed it in the very next issue. This was when I realised I COULD do this job. It was also when I realised I had been doing it for a while anyway... you see I had already worked for a company that published books for the dental industry and gained hands on experience about formatting, proofs and the general publishing process. At the time I was working for the Department of Neurology at the main hospital here in Rome and a large part of my job was to help write research articles. I already had quite a bit of experience.

Rocking the #1 spot on the best sellers list
Having tried various genres over the years and published a couple of non-fiction books I moved my focus to children's picture books after my second son was born in 2011. It seemed so natural. I was always making up stories for my kids anyway and we often had drawing sessions together. The final nudge was when my eldest son (at the time 4 years old) as me why I hadn't written a book for him yet. I figured he had a good point and so created Out and About at the Zoo. The book proved to be a huge success and made it onto several best seller lists and received some fantastic reviews. This has motivated me to continue in this market and my new rhyming children's picture story book Fairy May will be officially released on 1st February 2013.

Fairy May will be officially released on 1st Feb 2013
I can now confidently say I'm a writer and I love my work. Whether I'm writing freelance articles for clients, blogging or working on a non-fiction or children's picture book I'm happy. Not everyone can say they love their job as much as I can and for that I feel truly blessed.

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  1. You are truly blessed! I love the timeline. I wrote a book for my son at age four. It is still on his shelf as an unillustrated and stapled booklet. I've also said, if I could draw I would have done something with it by now. Now I've seen the main character of the book has a title published title of his own so I'll first need to think up a new name for him. Until then so it remain... I love your story, you are an inspiration.

    1. Thanks Kenya :) I think one of the hardest things to do is to believe in yourself. It's taken me years and even now I have days of self doubt. As writers we often feel that everyone needs to like our work but when it comes down to it you can't please everyone all the time.

      Have you thought of getting your son to illustrate the book? Just an idea. Might work nicely and would definitely make the project special for your both.

  2. I used to write when I was little too, mostly poetry. This is a great blog hop and wonderful article, Jo. Thanks for sharing and including us!

    1. Thanks Dianne. It's fun to get a glimpse into the lives of other writers. We all have different routines and ways of doing things. It's interesting to see how others got into being writers too.

  3. I STILL get the "never make a living doing that kind of stuff" comment, even though I'm a published author and have been freelancing for nearly 20 years. UGH. Perhaps it's because others are scared to pursue their dreams that they attempt to discourage those of us who do. Great post--fun hop. Thanks.

    1. I have to be honest here, some months I ask myself if I can earn enough doing this job. As a writer there is no guaranteed pay cheque at the end of each month. Some months are good, others great... then there's the slow ones. This is when I roll up my sleeves and find new freelance clients or throw myself into another book. It's hard but can also be motivating. We have to constantly put in the effort in order to get constant results.

      I think you're right. Some people fear their dreams and so prefer to say "it's not possible" instead of putting in the hard work it takes to realise their dream.

  4. Congratulations on pursuing your dream and being so good at it too! I hope your new book is well received. I'll keep my eyes open for it.

  5. Hi Jo

    Hazel's Mum here (from the Blog Hop). Can really relate to the being told "you'll never make any money from writing". It was what was told to me by my parents when I wanted to apply to undergo a Writing Degree, so I didn't apply and it was one of my biggest regrets.

    In the end, I did a marketing degree (first class) and I had major problems getting any marketing job even with that!

    Anyway I love being a mum and writing picture books for and with Hazel. I will always advise her to follow her dreams.

    1. I think it's important to HAVE and FOLLOW our dreams. As one of my favourite quotes says "Nothing is impossible, the word it's self says 'I'm possible'!" (Audrey Hepburn).

      My new book 'Fairy May' is based on this point. She's a young fairy that dreams of becoming a tooth fairy but she struggles at school and always seems to get things wrong. With hard work and determination she studies for her test and in the end realises her dream.


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