Don’t Tell Me I Can’t…
Sue Watson turned her life-long dream of writing her own novel into a reality
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