I began my career working as a columnist and feature writer for a queer rag in Brighton – Gscene. I was training to teach secondary English at the time, but an underlying allergy to teenagers forced me out of the profession. Following a copy-writing job in the charity sector, I retrained as a fiction editor and have worked as a freelancer in this field since 2008. Writing is my first passion, and I now split my time professionally between editing and consultancy work, blogging, fiction writing and ghostwriting: working with exceptional people to tell their stories.
I have become obsessed with true stories and writing honestly, perhaps because I grew up in a house of lies. The walls were papered with them, the roof was tiled with them, we ate them, washed with them, snuggled under them as we slept at night and awoke with them as every fresh day dawned. As an adult, as truth smashed its way through the lies, I was forced to rewrite my own story to include the darkest imaginable family secrets, to which I had been ignorant. I had to recast heroes as monsters and rebels as victims and reshuffle my whole perspective of a beautiful childhood sun that dazzled me so completely. I have never experienced such pain, but after the pain comes strength and a new perspective on life … of discovering how to cope, knowing that the little things are no longer important, that if I can survive this and still smile and love and take pleasure in the small things, then I can truly survive anything.
Life is both terrible and wonderful – sometimes on the same day.
We all have a story to tell.
Interview yourself for your autobiography. A useful resource for autobiography writers.
I contacted ‘LGBT She-Ra’ a few weeks back to see if she would do me the honour of sharing her life story, to potentially create a memoir together. I should add at this stage that ‘She-Ra’ is not her real name. It does, however, reflect what an absolute warrior she is – a warrior of the heart.
“You’re in the river,” she says. “It’s choppy, too choppy, wild. It’s throwing you around. You’re drowning.”
What the hell is she trying to do? My panic intensifies, grows colour around it, as I’m thrown around by the unyielding current. How is this helping?
Good question …
“We could get dressed up, move the sofa, put the light out, grab the opera glasses and Frazzles.” (Our snack cupboard was looking a bit bare.)
So we did. I in my long pinstripe jacket and bowtie, hair oiled back and moustache drawn on with eyeliner pencil. She in her flapper dress and boa. I have no idea where she found the peacock feather to stick in her hair, but it was a nice touch.
It’s almost as if we spend our lives guarding our darkest secrets, shielding ourselves from the gaze of others, but what if these authentic parts are our most beautiful and human?
It’s such a small, frivolous thing to be thankful for when the world has been brought to its knees by influenza’s older, demented half-brother, with a chip on his shoulder and daddy issues.
If I don’t write every day, I lose confidence, and then I can’t write, because, like most creative people, I am quite mad.
I’m a buzzed-up giant. The washing machine in my head is spinning my clothes for the 800th time although they’re already clean. I’m a whirr. I’m polo-mint breath puffed onto an eyeball …
My God, I was an arrogant writer when I was younger. I knew my work was good, and I reacted to criticism the way flat-earthers respond to the inconvenient truth. I was hot stuff, they were wrong/moronic/picking on me, and the world would have to catch up with my genius sooner or later.