I’d just reached an age at which it’d become flattering to be ID’d when buying a case of Côtes du Rhône and a six-pack of Carlsberg at the local wine seller, when I decided to take my dream to be a writer seriously.
Copywriting had been part of my career for over a decade, and satisfied some of my creative cravings, but I needed more. I wanted to rekindle my dream of writing a novel, one that began, aged six, when my class was challenged to publish a book with the help of cereal packets, double-sided sticky tape and paint that, looking back, I probably shouldn’t have eaten. With luck, I escaped any ill effects but, as I got older and life took over, my dream was pushed to the back of a draw along with a gang of Barbies, dehydrated Play-Doh and a teddy with one eye.
Now I’d committed, once more, to writing a novel, it would be simple, wouldn’t it? However, after a couple of years’ effort, a few more crates of Côtes du Rhône and a reservoir of coffee, I realised that wasn’t the case. I needed help.
Thankfully, I was offered a place on a creative writing course run by the fabulous Faber Academy. (Cue more wine to celebrate and a phone call to my credit card company.) What a relief it was to be in the company of other writers. I no longer felt mad. Slowly, with structured learning and feedback, my writing started to improve. I knew where I was going wrong, how to get it right and was warmed by the encouragement. I’d also got into one of the most critical disciplines for writing well: Close reading.
If you’re into retro photography or had x-ray results a few years back, you’ll be familiar with light boxes. They illuminate things so they can be examined. That’s what I felt I was doing with the books I was now reading. How enlightening it was to explore what every book could teach me about, not just writing, but life. Seems there’s sometimes more truth in fiction than reality. I felt selfish keeping all this to myself though. I needed to share it.
The solution for doing this came as I stood, mulled cider in one hand, baked chestnuts in the other, watching fireworks welcome the arrival of 2014. As the last rocket dissolved in the sky, I decided to set up a book blog. I called it Literary Lightbox in honour of my recent reading experiences, vowing each article would share something about life or writing, would be short enough to be enjoyed over a latte and would not require readers to pause for a dictionary to look up words that haven’t been used since 1883.
Publishing my first article made me shake more than the wind chill at Kilimanjaro’s summit, a dream I’d conquered back in 2012. But, the warm response from readers blew away my fears and I kept going. Since then, my novel has progressed significantly, and Literary Lightbox is now read by over a million writers every year. It feels amazing, and such a privilege, to know that my articles are inspiring readers and writers on every continent. It certainly spurs me on!
Literary Lightbox, though, is far from an island. It’s grown into a community. I’ve had the honour of hosting many guests including New York Times and Sunday Times bestselling authors, indie authors and emerging authors. In fact, it’s become much more than a blog book. It’s our special space of the Internet where we writers can inspire each other, lend support and encouragement.
So, why not pour yourself a coffee (wine if you prefer) and let some of our author interviews, literary reflections and writing lessons lighten your day?
Oh, and if you love what you see, please do subscribe to our newsletter on the right so you never miss out on our newsletters filled with articles designed to inspire and uplift you on your writing journey.
I look forward to chatting to you and maybe even having the privilege to feature you one day!