Becoming a writer

"Proper words in proper places, make the true definition of a style.
(Jonathan Swift)

In hindsight, my first attempts at writing were very basic. I threw ideas at publishers without knowledge of or thought for the intended reader. I attended evening classes is creative writing, and in the Summer of 1996 I attended the Annual Writers Conference, never having had pubished a word. But of course I had a great idea, that was bound to become a best-seller. This idea I told to the writer Gordon Wells. He showed interest, but told me that it was of little interest in a commercial market. What he told me next was the most significant piece of advice I have ever had as a writer. "Don't write about what you know." he told me, "Know about what you write, and make every word work." He went on to explain that you can write about almost anything providing you research your subject thoroughly, and sell it almost anywhere providing you research your reader thoroughly. He also told me to think about everyone in my life, and that I would be sure to find something of interest on every one of them.

He was so right. Following his advice I made a list of all my family and friends. I found that in the 1920's, my grandfather (my mothers father) had worked on a horse-drawn narrowboat, collecting milk in churns from the dairy farms of Shropshire and delivering them to the canalside Cadbury processing factory in Knighton. I talked to my mother, uncles and aunts about him, and gathered the facts. Then I looked at the three possible magazine markets: Inland Waterways Magazines. By careful study, I deduced that the most likely magazine, if any, to accept this article, would be Canal and Riverboat Magazine. The editor Chris Cattrall accepted and published it, and I have worked regularly for the magazine ever since. Using the same principles I eventually came to write for a whole range of UK leisure magazines. By September 1998, I had filled over 200 pages of various periodical publications. In November last year, one of my articles was seen by over one million readers.