Guest Blog by Jennifer Jones
Like most writers, I cannot recall a time when I could neither read nor write. Reading became a part of my life very early. I still recall my mother berating me as I attempted to tie shoelaces whilst gripped to my latest read. Libraries were key elements of my childhood. The touch, smell and content of books beguiled.
An accident when I was nineteen left me with nearly a decade of being unable to work. Writing saved my sanity during those years. That writing took many forms including diaries, short stories and poetry. The diaries provide rather bleak records of those years. Despite the darkness somehow I kept my spirits up. I am certain that the act of putting pen to paper was therapeutic and kept me hopeful for better times to come.
Years at university opened the door to more consistent writing. As I was studying science, there was little room for true creativity. We were constrained by the rules of scientific method and the demands of scientific publications. I was commended on my abilities as a science writer. I was in demand to review the work of fellow students. My professor asserted that I was one of the best technical writers he had ever encountered. Coming from a man who could write the most beguiling text, this meant much. Still, I could not believe that I had a talent for writing fiction.
The tide turned some years ago. News of a Creative Writing course being held near my home motivated me. I signed up and then reflected on my decision. Had I made a mistake? I was not to know that the course would see me in the starting blocks of a wonderful race to life as an indie author. That devil ‘lack-of-confidence’ raised its ugly head most weeks. One day our tutor asserted that I had talent and I wondered if that old confidence devil could be dispelled to another world. Still it whispered its ugly words: “she doesn’t really mean it you know”; “she’s just humouring you”; “the others are far better than you”. The negative thoughts were incessant. Yet, I persisted and, more importantly, I loved the act of allowing thoughts to forage around my brain and then spew out words to paint a picture.
I have always had a passion for the natural world, so the writing course gave me the confidence to start writing a blog about my experiences as a bird watcher. The feedback was very positive. Somewhere out there in the ether people were reading my blog and liked what they read. People were asking for more. A writing retreat around that time enabled me to meet other writers and, more importantly, provided time and space to experiment. This was the springboard that I needed.
I was soon on the journey to becoming an indie author. What a learning experience it was. Publication didn’t finish when I pressed the last full stop of my children’s story. I had to consider illustrations, establishing an author website and a presence on social media. Then the day arrived: the online launch of my first picture book. That old devil whispered again: “no-one will buy it”; “reviews will be poor”; “people will think that you are a fraud”. Nothing could be further from the truth. By the end of the day my book was an Amazon best seller and over the coming weeks my book was receiving five star reviews.
My writing journey is ongoing. I love the process. It is not easy. It can be frustrating and still that old devil whispers negatives in my ear. I am learning to ignore it. Inspiration now flies from so many directions. People-watching and listening, the natural world, newspaper items, old letters and photographs. All can sow the seeds of ideas for my writing. As a child I devoured words. Now I am providing food for the current generation to devour. Parents tell me how much their little ones are enjoying my book. I leave it to a Year 2 child who recently whispered in my ear: “I think your book is great”. Such commendations are precisely why I continue the journey as an indie author.
About the author
Jennifer Jones is a writer of children’s books and weaver of words.