Caroline A Raine

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Day 16. This is a Tale about a Tale

So I was thinking - we each have our own writing journeys ... how did this writing journey happen? How has your writing journey happened?

I always fancied myself as a writer - poet, but I mean, I didn't leave school and think that I would be a writer and then start writing in the burst of youth and slowly grow a career and become an established author. It was something I thought I would do since I was about twelve years old - so, so, so many writings and scribblings and notebooks and poems....

But I became a teacher and it's been a brilliant journey. But I do think that everything is part of the one journey. If we let it, the everything we encounter and grow through feeds into one glorious narrative of our own making.

My father and his siblings had a sad start to life: They were WW2 toddlers and babies in north England. Their father left home, then - who knows what the motivation was - their mother left them taking her daughter with her to marry another man. The two little boys aged 4 and 6 were sent to live in a charity orphanage run by a Methodist charity organisation in the south of England. The highlight of his life at Harpenden was chapel choir. The children grew up calling the house mothers "Sister" although research indicates that these ladies were lay people.

I told the story to a Life Skills class, of a child (my father), being abandoned by his mother and sent with his brother to an orphanage. That became a stock lesson plan for a few years (about choice and creating one's own life story). I eventually ran an ad. in the UK newspapers calling for any stories about the orphanage and its children. The idea (which is still in the pipeline) was to write a collection of stories and paint a picture of an era lost in time. I received a wonderful collection from enthusiastic people and I am committed to upholding my end of the ambitious plan.

Then six years ago, I stumbled on a short story writing competition for Maskew Miller Longman Publishers, and submitted a re-working of this same story in all its literary clothing. It didn't get anywhere.

It was shelved. Then two years ago, I was meandering on the Web and found Chicken House Publishers and that they had a Children's Novel writing competition. I set my target and sat down and wrote the whole story in 3 months. It ended up being a 60 000 word novel. The same ghost of a story was the backbone of my novel and it had developed into a full fantasy work for children. A life's ambition. I posted it off in all my exuberant innocence and held my breath. It didn't get anywhere. BUT it was a complete work and I was proud beyond belief of this thing I had finished.

I was disappointed though and after a few months of moping started submitting to local publishers. I came to the conclusion that in South Africa, publishing houses are strapped for cash and need to pick their new titles very carefully. They can't take a chance on a new author with no track record and who is offering a less than South African-steeped work.  And Edward Beaton and the Star in the Glass didn't get anywhere.

Then I ordered a Kindle one day and discovered in so doing - entirely as an aside, that Amazon are offering self-publishing services. I thought  "why not" and set about editing again, and formatting for Kindle and uploading. And then of course the notice came through to submit for ABNA which I did, and here we sit, champing at the bit and wondering if Edward and I will make it through to the Semi-finals....

So there it is. And here is the original "Edward Beaton" whose story set the whole book in motion... my father David, visiting the orphanage and the forest behind it in Harpenden, England, about 60 years after he left it.

So what is your story..?


Christine Murray said...

My story is nowhere near as interesting as yours. I have my fingers crossed for you and Edward. Roll on April 26th!

Jeana said...

I always thought someday I would write a novel. It wasn't until something very traumatic happened that pushed me into actually sitting down and getting to it. I needed to deal with my own pain and it did help. It really did. And now it's a part of my life.