This is one of those times of year when I miss my mother. She died in 2002 at the age of 52. At the time it was sudden and shocking and I still haven't got over it. I didn't get chance to say goodbye so I wrote her a letter. Then I had to write a speech to read out at her funeral. After that I returned to the stressful job I was doing in the City, working in the back office, finalising documentation for the Derivatives traders. I was working 11-12 hour days and under a great deal of pressure. It's difficult to grieve in that environment so I took a career break just before I got married at the age of 29.
After I got married, I thought 'what shall I do now?'. I wanted to have children but not right away. I remembered that writing the goodbye letter to my mother and the funeral speech had made me feel better. Writing was like therapy.
I wrote a great deal as a child when we lived in the middle of nowhere in Yorkshire. I wrote a series of stories about a cuddly pink mouse I owned and sent them to Ladybird. I still have the beautifully-worded rejection letter. I won a story competition at the age of nine for a story called 'Bottle on the Beach'. Writing has always made me feel happy.
I thought back to the three weeks I spent putting together my dissertation for university about the changing role of women in Italy. I went home as it was the Easter holidays. It was spring, the sun shone through my bedroom window and the garden was in full bloom. My mum brought me cups of tea and discussed bits of it with me every now and again. I'd enjoyed creating an 8000 word piece of work and I got 68%. This made me think that I should be capable of creating a novel.
My mum liked to write. She wrote poetry and had been writing a novel for more than ten years when she died. I never got to read any of her novel but I knew that it was set in Italy and Yorkshire and that there was a love story in it somewhere. So I decided to use those ideas as my inspiration. My parents met on holiday in Italy and we'd been driving to Italy every summer since I could remember. As a child I loved the sound of Italian and I made up my mind that I was going to learn how to speak it one day. I went on to study Italian and French at university and I lived in Grenoble and Siena during the third year of my degree.
Writing my novel was initially part of the grieving process. It had to be an upbeat genre as I wanted to write to be uplifted. In January I'm going to send it to more agents and enter more competitions and do my best to get it published. Then I need to get on with Book 2. This seems like such a mammoth task. But writing is all about perseverance and I shall carry on writing until hopefully I get somewhere.
This is my last blog post of 2011. (My husband has asked me to stay away from blogging, Twitter and Facebook over the Christmas period and I feel I ought to try!) I'd like to thank everyone who has been reading my blog since I started it in October. I've really enjoyed writing it. I wish you all a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year. See you in 2012!
I'd be interested to read your comments about why you write or anything else.