I am a writer who daylights as a healthcare manager. I write because I am compelled.  Characters and plots come sometimes at the most unwelcome of times, like when giving a presentation at work. So, I write.

I read accounts here and in/on other publications about the challenges of writing, getting representation, being published, staying published and making a living as a writer.  The tales of success - be it Emily Benet’s or Jojo Moyes’ - are seductive. So, I write.

One of the enduring ideas about writing is of it being a singular pursuit. I wasn’t sure going it alone was the right option for me at this time, though.

Several years ago, when I decided to focus on writing short stories, I did an Arvon residential writing course. I’ve written many short stories and entered a few competitions, but the course gave me the confidence to start my blog, Desert River Writer, eighteen months ago.

This year, as I approached my fortieth birthday, I thought about what I’d like to achieve before my fiftieth. High on the list are writing and publishing a novel. I knew that I’d benefit from some sort of course, though. Ditching the day job and spending a year doing an MFA or MA, however, is unaffordable at this time.  So I researched online options and decided to do a course with Faber . Though, the SJ Watson factor (SJ Watson wrote his bestselling novel,  Before I Go To Sleep, after attending one of these courses) did influence the decision, I was drawn to the course for the following reasons:

  • Exclusively focused on writing a novel
  • Led by an experienced, published writer 
  • One to one feedback 
  • Peer review/supports 
  • Clear goals/expectations – 1000 words by session 4, 400 by session 7 and 15,000 by course end

The course submission calls for a piece of prose, a book recommendation, and an outline of my novel. The book recommendation was easy. It gave me an excuse, to reread the atmospheric Black Rock by Amanda Smyth. The prose piece and novel outline, however, were more challenging.

I’d been using elements of The Snowflake Method to develop my characters and their story lines but had found it difficult to bring this into a single narrative.  I also had a short story that I and other writers had reviewed several times yet it was not quite right.  

So, I sought expert help. I looked through the classifieds of The Writers’ Forum magazine and sent a query to Debz Hobbs-Wyatt, asking for help in perfecting my submission. Over a period of 6 weeks, we were able to hone both the short story and the outline of my novel.

The working title of my novel is The Forgotten Art of Letter Writing. The blurb: 

British expat resident in Middle East, Simone Baptiste is living with the aftermath of her suicide attempt. Told in a series of letters: part one are her suicide notes to loved ones, part two are letters to herself and part three life letters to loved ones. By being knocked off her path, she has time to consider what her true calling is.

Just before publishing this piece, I submitted my entry. Fingers crossed. Now the real work begins. 

Want to follow my journey? I’ll be reflecting regularly on my blog Desert River Writer.

Originally from Trinidad and Tobago, I now live in Qatar after a twenty-year stopover in the UK. Out gendered in my household, I’m married with 2 sons.  When I’m not dreaming my own world, I’m in someone else’s via a book.