Two women are responsible for my love of literature. My grandmother, who taught me to read as soon as I could walk and my mother who, at the hint of an “off-day,” let me stay in bed with a hot water bottle, a warm drink and a bowl to be sick in. She had a theory I was going to be a writer. “After all,” she’d say, “Jane Austen wrote in bed.” I forgave her ignorance.
I often visited the library twice a day, but the writing waited until I was thirteen, on holiday in Cornwall, reading Daphne du Maurier’s Rebecca. I read it in bed, at mealtimes, even on walks. I wrote fantasy love affairs in my head and, after our family made friends with another family who had a teenage son of about fourteen, I wrote lusty thoughts in my notebook. They were discovered by my mother, who tore up the notebook and threw it in a dustbin. So much for encouraging my writing career.
When I was eighteen, I entered a Sunday Times competition for the best profile piece. I interviewed a famous man. The winning entry was a profile of the writer’s grandmother. At work, I discovered a portable typewriter and, despite being unable to type, wrote short stories and submitted them to women’s magazines without having a clue about presentation let alone the necessary research into readers’ likes and dislikes.
Marriage and children put a stop to writing until I discovered the Swanwick Summer School and abandoned my family to indulge in a week-long flirtation with other writers, information and advice, eating and drinking. After several years, I published a short genre novel. I had arrived.
I pitched my ambitions higher and wrote a block-buster. All the rage at the time. I secured an agent! The verdict was the book was not good enough. Never mind. Joanna Trollope was the new name. I imitated her. We lived in Egypt for two years where I completed two full-length novels, both returned to me.
I completed an M.A. in Creative Writing at Chichester University; two wonderful years learning and experimenting. I wrote a poem (published) a short story (published) and a play for radio (rejected). I started a new novel (on-going).
Along the way I have gathered small successes which keep me going. I tell myself being short-listed for a writing prize is better than winning since I still have the story but also a new item for my CV. I attend events run by Spread the Word, The Royal Literary Society and The Society of Authors. I aim to write every day.
My most recent project is to write a memoir in which no agent is interested. The self-publishing route beckons and I’m going for it.
I tweet and am totally caught up in creating a new website. Do visit it. And keep going!
Jane Hayward writes long and short fiction and memoir, encouraged by modest successes, e.g. shortlisted for the Fish Memoir Prize and winning the Lightship International Prize for a short story. She is looking to place a memoir, set in the mid-sixties, and is working on a novel set in 1955. Jane has an M.A. in Creative Writing. www.janehaywardwriter.wordpress.com