It’s always nice to invite an author that I know personally over to my blog, so I’m delighted to be talking to poet and author Sue Johnson about her writing journey today. Sue lives in Worcester, where I used to live, and we’ve often bumped into each other at writerly events. Welcome, Sue. Can you please tell us how you became a published author?
I have had a passion for writing stories ever since I could hold a pen. I was very fortunate to be brought up in a family where I was surrounded by stories – the stories people told as well as the ones read from books. We also listened to stories on the radio. The Primary School teacher I had when I was seven encouraged me to carry on writing if she could see I was really engrossed in an idea – even though the rest of the class carried on with something else.
I wrote a weekly newspaper (mainly held together with sellotape) and charged my friends an old-fashioned threepenny bit to read it. I wrote plays and song and dance productions and my friends and I performed them in my Dad’s garage.
Then we had ‘that’ lesson at school when I was about nine and the teacher asked us what we wanted to be when we grew up. I said I wanted to write stories and draw pictures and she told me it wasn’t a proper job.
Despite what she said, I carried on writing stories throughout my teens and twenties alongside school exams, work, getting married and having children. I was short-listed for a story competition organised by Impulse Body Spray and won a year’s supply.
The dream of being a writer hadn’t died – but unfortunately I was married to someone who said ‘don’t tell people you write because they’ll think you’re weird.’ Again, I took no notice and did what I could when I could – writing in secret in short snatches. I attended workshops at the library and was encouraged to write poetry – something I’d not really enjoyed at school. I was stuck in a destructive marriage and it was a great vehicle for my turbulent feelings. I submitted work to magazines and was published.
Thankfully, the marriage came to an end. I met my lovely partner at a poetry reading in the library and we got together. He encouraged me to go back to college and follow my dream. However, the first story I submitted for assessment got a ‘thumbs down’ from my lecturer. He told me to ‘rip it up and start again.’ He did me a great favour by saying this! I did the total opposite and sent it to a competition organised by Midland Exposure – an agency dealing with magazine fiction. The story was shortlisted and eventually published in ‘Woman’. Many more stories were accepted after that.
I was a member of the Romantic Novelists Association for a few years. My first novel ‘Fable’s Fortune’ went through their New Writers Scheme and was published by Indigo Dreams in 2011. (Indigo Dreams are now better known as award-winning publishers of poetry). My policy is to follow my passion – and make sure I make full use of an idea. Many of my stories begin as a poem and then go via flash fiction and short stories towards novel scenes and plays. I hope I live long enough to write all the stories in my head!
I hope you do too, Sue. I’m so pleased you followed your dream of being an author. Thank you for sharing your story of determination and perseverance.
Here are some of Sue’s books:
To browse all Sue’s current publications check out www.writers-toolkit.co.uk/publications
There are buttons giving a direct link to Amazon on that page.
Sue Johnson is a poet, short story writer and novelist. She also creates books aimed at helping other writers. Sue is a Writing Magazine Creative Writing Tutor and also runs her own brand of writing workshops. Her other interests include walking, reading, cooking and yoga. Further details of her work can be found at www.writers-toolkit.co.uk
Check in next week to read Erik Thorne’s writing journey.
And if you want to read about my writing journey, I’m talking about it over on Tom William’s blog here.