Don’t Tell Me I Can’t…

Sue Wat­son turned her life-long dream of writ­ing her own novel into a re­al­ity

Woman (UK) - - This Issue -

write a novel

‘i knew i’d re­gret not Try­ing’

Typ­ing on my lap­top, I love noth­ing more than los­ing my­self in an ex­cit­ing plot, cre­at­ing in­ter­est­ing char­ac­ters and trans­port­ing my­self to dif­fer­ent lo­ca­tions around the world through the words I write. But while I might sound like a sea­soned au­thor, I’m not. In fact, my first novel wasn’t pub­lished un­til I was 43.

Grow­ing up, I loved read­ing. The Magic Far­away Tree by Enid Bly­ton was one of my favourites and I of­ten penned my own tales. My love of writ­ing only grew as I got older and, when I left school aged 18, I went to Manch­ester Metropoli­tan Univer­sity to study English, be­fore be­com­ing a jour­nal­ist at 21, and then a TV pro­ducer for the BBC at 30.

I loved my job, but when I met my hus­band, Nick, through work and had my daugh­ter Eve in 1999, I found it dif­fi­cult jug­gling my ca­reer with my fam­ily. In my spare time, I made notes which I hoped one day I’d make into a book. I’d al­ways have a pad handy in my bag, ready to write down things that in­spired me. And, by 2009, the thrill of my ca­reer in tele­vi­sion had lost its ap­peal.

I longed to do some­thing that I was pas­sion­ate about. My friends told me that I should write a book and the more I thought about it, the more it dawned on me just how much I en­joyed com­ing up with story ideas in my head. ‘I’d love to write a novel,’ I told Nick one evening, over din­ner. ‘Then do it,’ he en­cour­aged.

He made it sound so sim­ple and I re­alised then that it was me who was hold­ing my­self back. I knew if I didn’t fol­low my dream now, I never would.

But it meant mak­ing sac­ri­fices. There was no way I’d be able to hold down even a part-time job if I wanted to fo­cus on writ­ing, but Nick was fully sup­port­ive. We knew it would put fi­nan­cial pres­sure on him as we’d be de­pen­dent on his salary as a TV pro­ducer. But as we worked out our out­go­ings one evening, we re­alised we could just about af­ford it, if we sold my car and can­celled an up­com­ing hol­i­day to Greece.

A few peo­ple were scep­ti­cal about my plans. Wasn’t 43 a lit­tle late for a ca­reer change? And what if no­body wanted to pub­lish my novel? They were valid ques­tions, but I didn’t have the an­swers – I just knew I’d re­gret not try­ing.

Putting any fears to one side, in the sum­mer of 2009, I sat down at the kitchen ta­ble, and started scrib­bling my ideas on pa­per be­fore typ­ing them up on my lap­top. The plot­lines and char­ac­ters came easy, and once I got started, it was hard to stop.

I spent be­tween five and six hours a day writ­ing, of­ten finding my­self wide awake at mid­night, too en­grossed to stop.

It took a year to fin­ish, but in 2010, I was ready to pitch my book to the pub­lish­ers.

I didn’t let my fam­ily or friends read the fi­nal draft. As much as they would have been sup­port­ive, I was too scared for any­one to read it, even though I fully be­lieved in it.

I re­ceived dozens of re­jec­tion let­ters, but I re­fused to give up. Fi­nally, in 2011, a small pub­lisher said they loved my book. Within a few months, Fat Girls

and Fairy Cakes was printed. When I first saw it listed on Ama­zon, I felt so proud. It didn’t fly off the shelves but it was great to fi­nally see my name on the front cover of a book. In 2014, my sec­ond book, Love,

Lies and Lemon Cake, was pub­lished. Since then I’ve writ­ten 13 nov­els and in Oc­to­ber, my first thriller, Our Lit­tle

Lies, came out – it’s gone on to be­come a best­seller in the USA.

At 52, I’m liv­ing such a dif­fer­ent life to what I ever imag­ined – it’s on my terms, fol­low­ing my pas­sion and one that I’m proud to say, I’ve writ­ten my­self.

✱ Sue Wat­son’s lat­est novel, Our Lit­tle Lies (£7.99, Book­ou­ture) is avail­able to pur­chase on­line and in stores.

Sue had al­ways had a pas­sion for writ­ing

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