I write… for her

I’m often asked who you should write for. Is it for a market, for yourself, for an audience? It’s taken me a long time to find the right answer because of course you should write for yourself and keep readers in mind, too. But I think I’ve finally worked out who I’m writing for: it’s all about this tiny photo I keep on my desk:

KIng Eds MeIt’s a very blurry photo of me, taken around 1990 when I was seventeen. I was at sixth-form college in Stourbridge studying for my English, History and Theatre Studies A-levels – and evenings and weekends at home I was working on my very first book.

I hadn’t told anyone I wrote. My family knew I was doing something because I was writing on a travel typewriter I’d been given for Christmas (remember those?) – the kind that became a rather heavy mini-suitcase when you closed the lid. They didn’t know the story I was writing, only the noise it made.

I loved drama and wanted to be an actress. I had a vision of myself as a confident woman one day, striding off into the world chasing after her dreams. On stage I was confident: in person I apologised, worried, played down my own achievements. I thought I was fat. (I wasn’t fat). I had a strong voice but whispered in choir because I’d been told it stood out too much. (It did stand out, that’s what made it awesome). But when I wrote, I could believe anything was possible – even if the many splodges of Tipp-Ex on the pages told a different story.

And then I decided to tell the guy I had a crush on that I wrote.

(You know a story that begins like this isn’t going to end well…)

He was the leading light in my Theatre Studies class and in the amateur theatre group I performed with on Saturdays. I was a T-Bird to his Danny Zuko, the Ugly Sister to his Prince Charming. He agreed to partner with me for a duologue piece as part of our course – the Inspector from J. B. Priestley’s An Inspector Calls grilling Sheila Birling over her mistreatment of Eva Smith. While we were rehearsing alone one lunchtime in the drama studio, I seized my chance.

‘I’m writing a book, actually.’

What I imagined would happen next proves I’m both a writer to my core and a hopeless romantic: I imagined him taking my hand, my hair blowing around my shoulders, the London Philharmonic Orchestra wheeling into the background to accompany my confession with suitably sweeping strings. He would gaze into my eyes, murmuring, ‘I’ve waited my whole life for a woman who writes…’

What he actually said was a little different.

‘You write stories? Shouldn’t you have given that up at primary school?’

And that was when I quit as a writer.

I went home, binned the many sheets of my book, shelved my typewriter and sobbed into my duvet. I didn’t write another story for ten years.

I write for her.

I write for the teenager who believed one idiot instead of following her heart. I write for the young woman setting out into her life longing for adventure who came home and cowered instead. I write for her – because every chapter I write, every draft I finish, every book I edit and see through to publication, is proof she was right. It was possible. It is possible. It’s happening now.

She’s on my desk (flanked by the Tenth Doctor because she’s awesome and deserves it) and I see her every time I sit down to write. I want her to know that she gets to write books for a living. Books that have gone around the world, translated into fifteen languages, read by over a million people. I want her to believe in herself and stop hiding.

The story I started to write after the ten-year hiatus went on to become Fairytale of New York, after years of secret writing. I’m currently writing my twelfth novel and my eleventh, Our Story, publishes on 3rd September. It’s about two people chasing their dream of writing. And the male protagonist is called Joe – which is the name seventeen-year-old me chose for her very first male lead in the book she was dreaming about.

I think she’d like that.

 

I Write for Her

8 responses to “I write… for her

  1. rebeccajaneacquahskycom

    Thank-you for sharing that part of your life as it helps others to believe that everyone is able to do what they dream about. Im so pleased you followed your dream and started writing again as I love your books and have already pre-orded your new one for September and can’t wait. Keep going and never give up. Lots of love Rebecca

  2. So inspiring!You are a wonderful writer and your stories always bring me such joy!Thank you.

  3. I’m so proud of you, Miranda, and I’m so glad you eventually got to follow your dream 😊

  4. Sounds just like me! I remember those type writers that would try and fall out every-time you closed the lid and pushed it under the bed, and how much tippex did I get through! Everyone used to ask me what do you want to do when you leave school. If I had said write books they would have laughed at me; especially as my spelling was quite imaginative! so, I went into finance even though I hated it. I always dreamt of being a writer. Thirty seven years later and I have written 90,000 words and am currently editing my first Rom-com. Like you I am also writing for that teenager in the 80’s (I’m a little older than you!) who had lots of bad perms days, but, I am writing for the reader who I can whisk away from reality, make laugh and live within my dream too.

  5. What a wonderful story. It’s heartbreaking how throwaway comments from thoughtless people can send us spinning. I’m glad you rediscovered your path in life.

  6. I love this so much! I gave up on writing when I was sixteen for similar reasons, and it was many, many years before I had the strength and the courage to start again. Eighteen books later, writing has changed my life and is now my full-time career, and I would give anything to go back and tell that sixteen-year-old who had no belief in herself whatsoever that she deserved so much better. And as an aside, I have little scale models of all the Doctors on my computer desk because yes, I deserve it, too!

  7. Oh, I loved reading this – I’m yet another one who had a dream and shelved it (different reasons) – recently started back up, got an agent and now just hanging on in there waiting and hoping. What an inspiring post.

  8. Oh-to-have-a-do-over

    I wish they could consciously teach confidence in school. I often wonder where my life would be had I the courage to make different choices. It may be better, it may be worse. I can think of one specific moment where I did not have the courage to see something through and it bothers me almost 20 years later. Good on you for seeing it through.

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