• Carol Tate

The sun rises on another step in my writing journey

When I started writing in 2014, I never imagined I would be where I am today. Back then, all I knew was I had woken up with a story idea and I needed to write it down.

Writing that first story consumed me. Page after page, word after word. I didn't know where the story was going, I didn't know where I was going. My marriage was falling apart, I was on a collision course with the bottom of a pit that was going to tear me apart when I landed. That story became my escape.

And land I did, on Christmas day 2014 in the Sydney home I shared with my husband, I knew my marriage was over and the best thing, the only thing I could do for my children and myself was return to New Zealand with my children.

I had no income, no savings, and only what could fit in five suitcases. I was a stay at home mum who'd put everything into the belief I could make my marriage work, until I had nothing more to give. My mum and stepfather took me in without hesitation, even though they didn't have the room and we would all have to move into a bigger place. They're like that - do what you have to do to support family. I could never repay them enough.

When I was finally able to get my own place with the children, it was a large apartment above a shop with a leaking roof we'd been told was fixed - but wasn't. We had little more than our beds and donated furniture and basics from my parents. I actually have fond memories from that time, no TV or devices other than my lap top. Every afternoon I sat and read to the children while they played with Lego and colored in books. My children's reading levels all jumped, my youngest daughter learned to read. I also became more determined to write the stories that were now competing for space inside my head. Day after day while the children went to school I was busy typing.

In 2016 I went back to school, I was terrified, I had no idea how to write critiques or essays and I honestly couldn't imagine being able to pass the Level 5 Applied Writing Diploma. But I made myself sit at the computer every day, I threw myself into the course work with the same determination I'd once had as a child. I was going to give it my best shot because I really wanted this. I wanted to know how to write better, how to get the stories onto paper in a way people might actually want to read them.

Not only did I pass that course with top marks, but I went on to pass my Level 6 as well. I continued working on my writing in semester breaks and while there was plenty of stressful times, I've learnt the skills I needed to start publishing the many manuscripts I've drafted up in the last five years.

I haven't reached this point alone, from my friend Gem who told me to keep writing because she wanted to know more - after she read that first very badly written manuscript - to my family and friends who supported me unconditionally and never laughed as I learned to dream big (okay that's not entirely true there have been many laughs but with me not at me- mostly anyway - love you lot), and everyone who guided me in my studies and worked on editing and polishing up Heartbeat and Take Down.

A special thanks has to go to my sister, Mel, who even though she doesn't normally read romantic suspense, has read countless drafts and listened as I bounced ideas around, and my friend, Jamie, who while being an avid reader of many genres, doesn't usually pick up romances, but did a beta read for me and helped pick up many typos and little issues that slipped through the editing process. I truly do have the most amazing friends I could ever ask for (I'm glad they enjoyed the stories, because those two were just the beginning).

So while my journey as a writer will continue to grow and change, this blog is the latest step, and I hope might one day inspire someone else to dream big and never give up, just as the many writers I followed into this journey inspired me. I'd love to hear from anyone who has taken the time to read this. Comments and feedback are always welcome, it's how I grow as a person and a writer.

Until next time, take care

Carol


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