Did I always want to write?
My first reaction to that question would be no, I didn’t harbour an ambition to write, but on reflection I did write stories when I was a teenager. Those really awful romances, girl meets boy, but they are torn apart by whatever came to mind, illness, parents moving etc. We’ve all been there. I used to make up stories with a friend as well. As we hung around the local park, we would invent new characters for whatever soap was popular, weave their stories into the narrative, and act out our parts.
Then I went to university and studied law, lots of reading and writing there, essays and law reports. That continued when I began work and had to take professional exams to qualify as a solicitor. Once I got past that stage, I wrote very detailed legal letters to clients and short speeches for the Magistrates Court. After a few years as a solicitor I wanted to be a barrister, because I longed to do bigger cases and to be able to appear in the Crown Courts and address juries. The transfer from one branch of the legal profession to the other wasn’t difficult, but for the first year or so, I didn’t have too much work to do and my afternoons were usually free. I found a number of ways to pass the time, exercise classes at The Pineapple Dance Centre in Covent Garden, visiting museums and galleries, going to matinees at the theatre and I began to write again. This time I tried to write legal thrillers, but they were anything but thrilling, so I gave up. As I became more senior and the cases I had were more complex, I was writing speeches to make to the jury. Each one a small story based on the facts that has been established during the trial. Of course advocates try to influence what the witnesses say in court, and part of the art is to put the most favourable interpretation on the evidence. So story telling again.
After I retired from the Bar, I wanted to write a family story because my two nieces were brought up in the USA and know very little about their English heritage – my brother is a non-communicator, whereas I know quite a lot about my family, some of it mythical, but then doesn’t every family have its legends. My attempt was just not interesting; I knew my nieces wouldn’t read it, so I realised I needed to get out of lawyer mode and learn to be more emotional – I find that difficult to say as I don’t think I lack feelings, it just being objective is so important for lawyers, but doesn’t make for interesting reading. Dry is the usual description of lawyers, it goes with the job.
That lead me to reading for an MA in Creative Writing at Exeter University. Now I don’t get bored with my writing – I write really good round robins at Christmas. I have written a novel, a courtroom drama/thriller and I hope to get it published, one way or another. Perhaps deep down I did always want to write.