Before I finished my novel, Dare to Remember, I took a creative writing course. I wanted to learn the best way to become a published novelist, and so I soaked up as much knowledge as I could – from courses, books and other writers.
Towards the end of the course, our tutor asked us what we had got out of the course. Normally I hate being asked this question, having been on many courses when the truthful answer would have been too impolite, but because the course had been particularly good for me, I was able to come up with an honest - and positive - answer. I said: “I’ve realised that writing fiction gives me a huge amount of freedom.”
Writing has always been good to me. In my long career in public relations, it’s been an important part of what I can offer. I can turn my writer’s hand to most things, given a brief and a decent deadline.
But the point about writing a novel is that there isn’t a brief, and very often there’s no deadline either. And I love that. It’s about the freedom to write on any subject, about any person, in any style, objectively or subjectively – I can write what I want, not what someone else wants. I can roam free, be as imaginative and as stupid as I want – even in the same sentence. Okay, I wanted to be published (and to my excitement my first novel has achieved that) – so there are certain stupidities which might rule that out. But they can stay in the first draft and be edited out – and maybe serve a purpose until I can come up with something better.
Dare to Remember gave me the freedom to write about some concepts I find interesting. Walking as therapy being one. The therapy of owning a dog (or a pet, though my experience is with dogs) is another. There is a serious message here, in case you’re wondering – as a number of children with autism and adults with disabilities are finding out. And lives changing suddenly from one course to an entirely different one, as my main character Lisa experienced. Also how it’s almost impossible to live without other people in your life.