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Did I Have a Mid-life Crisis?



Perhaps that's what it might look like from the outside, after all I decided when I was 40 - not literally on my birthday or anything but during that year, that it was time to take my writing seriously. But honestly I think that was a moment of clarity, an epiphany moment. The crisis was actually contained in the years before when I didn't write.

I've always wanted to be an author - I know people say that but I can't remember a time in my life when I didn't want it. And even though people told me that I couldn't do it that never once dulled the desire. But because my parents weren't what you'd call encouraging of this career choice my confidence did not match my dream.

As a teenager I wrote god awful poetry and started an epic fantasy series, but really struggled to find my voice. I became a mother at 17 and then a few years later qualified as a Nursery Nurse ( I know imagine being called Angela Nurse and being a Nursery Nurse!) It seemed entirely natural that I would write children's fiction.

I did this and enjoyed it - I sent out manuscripts (in the post because this was the 90s) and waited for the return of my SAE (stamped addressed envelope) - because we paid the cost of posting our rejections. I was lucky one of my stories caught the eye of an editor and we were on the brink of a deal when they left and the house of cards came tumbling down.

I didn't give up hope though - the ideas came to me and I would jot them down, write a few pages here and there but after a while I stopped. I'm not sure when it happened but at some point I just stopped and this had nothing to do with desire of being a writer because that still existed, I still talked a good deal about writing I just didn't do any.

Instead I got caught up in advancing my career in banking - I did the one thing I promised myself I'd never do, I was supposed to do a job that paid the bills but that didn't consume me and leave me without any creative energy. I built a career and I lost sight of what it was I really wanted.

Then in 2015 I was doing a job that required a lot of travelling - far more than I'd been led to believe and that's how I came to find myself alone in Birmingham airport waiting for a very delayed flight home (5 hours late). So I thought I would pop to the bookshop and get myself something to read and that's when I saw Paula Hawkins - The Girl On The Train, I read the blurb and it was a bit of gut punch. I'd spent years travelling the length of the country to go to school and thought one day I'll write a book about witnessing a murder from the train. I want to be clear I'm not suggesting that what I would've written would have been anything like Paula's book or anywhere near as successful. What I am saying is it was like a clout round the head that made me ask what the hell I was doing with my life.

Instead of buying a book (Sorry Paula but I did buy a bit later on) I bought a note book and a pen and I started to jot down ideas. That evening was the turning point and when I got home I told my husband (who is now and always has been hugely supportive of my writing) that I was going to take my writing seriously. Now he was all for that although I'm pretty sure he was skeptical at first after all I'd been all talk and no action for a long time.

A few months later though I had written my first crime novel - I was extremely proud of myself and although that book didn't result in publication I had proved to myself I could do it and I loved it. And I haven't looked back.

Did I have a mid-life crisis? You can decide for yourself but for my part I don't think you can call fulfilling a lifetime of ambition a crisis.

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