Writing has been my calling since I was around 13 years old. I didn’t listen. I dabbled in other artforms (music, drawing, photography, painting, acting) when I should have been writing. I still remember telling my English teacher, Mr Jope. He leant me his copy of Bob Dylan’s Blood on the Tracks. Lyrical poetry, he said. Listen.
(Writing poems, essays, song lyrics, short stories, birthday cards, shopping lists, letters, emails, articles. Beginnings of things.)
Becoming a “writer” was like putting on a new coat. I liked it, it was well cut. There was an uncertain comfort. Others had never seen me wear anything like it. Felt it wasn’t for me. I took the coat off. Hung it back in the wardrobe. It stayed there for years.
Yes, but how are you going to earn a living? Yes, it’s all very well as a hobby, but. Yes, but it’s so insecure! Yes, but how will you ever pay a mortgage? Yes, but it’s not for the likes of us (you).
I developed a career. People talk about having imposter syndrome within the arts. I had imposter syndrome throughout a two decades long media business career. Making it up as I went along. Feeling I should be somewhere else.
In 2010 I realised that the overblown and overly lyrical paragraphs I had in a notebook were the beginnings to something I’d never previously thought I’d have the staying power to write. A novel. It was then that I decided.
Fast forward to 2013, discouraged, rejected, unsure, I was approached by an old, now ex, friend. He asked me to go into business with him. Some decisions are easy to regret in the fullness of time.
Early 2018. Invited to a book launch by someone with whom I used to exchange work, swap paragraphs, chapters. She had persisted. That persistence had earned her an agent, a publisher, a book deal, interest from a television company. That night lit a fire. That night I took the coat out from the back of the wardrobe.
‘It’s never too late to be what you might have been.’ George Eliot.
Copyright Andrew Leach 2020