Hello! I’m Sophie, I’m 22, I lack physical co-ordination, any spatial awareness and my greatest achievement so far in life is that my embarrassing anecdote of accidentally wedging myself half-in/half-out of a revolving door made it into Miranda Hart’s companion book ‘No It’s Us Too’.
I can’t remember when I started writing or how many unfinished stories I’ve got stashed in odd draws and littering my computer files but now I have finally, finally, finished writing an entire book. Hoorah! …. Or not. Everywhere I look online I find articles like ‘How to be Published’, ‘You’ve Written Your Book, What Next?’, ‘What Professional Writer’s Really Earn’ and ‘Dos and Don’ts of Submissions’. These articles have managed to simultaneously confuse me and scare me witless, leaving a trail of dark doubts about entering into this publishing lottery.
And yet, no matter how small my chances seem (and the odds do look abysmal) this is all I want to do. As painfully cliche as it sounds I have so many stories to tell … but let’s start with the one first.
Have you noticed there’s a great gap in the market for university and graduate fiction? There’s teen fiction, young adult (often a euphemism for older teen) and then it goes straight to stories aimed at adults dealing with your 20s, 30s, children etc. The university market is huuuge and yet I haven’t ever seen a book that centres around this time in your life. (If you’ve heard of any please let me know, I’d love to read them).
So with inspiration in the form of my lovely and hilarious friends, I’ve written about five graduates who have come to live back at home, are nostalgic for their uni days, have no idea what to do with their lives and feel as grown up as they did when they were 16. They’re pretty much like us … except these graduates have stolen a load of money to get them through.
I’m trying to tell a ridiculous story in an honest way, so although the greater aspects of the plot might seem unlikely (to say the least) the smaller everyday aspects are something that should strike a chord. I say ‘should’ because I’ve yet to test it out. (I’d like to thank my friends in advance for reading this and also thank them for the use of their lives and anecdotes for commercial purposes). Don’t worry guys, they may have your lives but none of the characters are based on any of you.
Deciding how much personal experience to use was tricky, on the one hand a biography of my life would be as exciting as the manual to a toaster and on the other hand, writing about what you know makes a story more substantial. Using personal experience was unavoidable but instead of documenting our lives I caricatured them, made them funnier and more exciting to create something new and fiction worthy. I mean there’s the odd part that’s stayed the same … some things are too good to make up.
Writing and getting to the end of the whole book has been really fulfilling and it’s given me a sense of catharsis that I hadn’t anticipated … but it has been a lot of work. I read once that writing isn’t supposed to be fun and that actually helped me go the distance, it’s taken a lot of hours and evenings and weekends to get this far and it’ll take even more to get it to a readable standard but it’s worth it. I’ve yet to read the whole thing myself, I knew if I started looking back I’d never get to the end, so now I have a rough outline I’m going to go back over and colour it in.
For the moment however I’m taking a nice week off so I can view my story with fresh perspective. I’m going to brave the bug infested garden and enjoy the rare glorious British weather with a good book that someone else has written.
(Friendly tip to all, don’t try to read LCD screens in sunlight your retinas will never feel the same again.)