London based writer. Blogger. Dreamer.

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A self-portrait is always a risky business

The story so far...

I'm not going to say that I've always wanted to be a writer as it wouldn’t be true. I clearly remember wanting to be a Skywalker: Luke and Leia’s long-lost younger sister, of course. I'm also not going to say that my first big love was writing because neither would this be true. My first big love was reading, and, come to think of it, my first grade classmate Konstantin.ᅠOnly, our relationship was doomed before it even began. He fancied my best friend.


But I’ve written a novel. In fact, I've been writing and rewriting it for the last five years. How did this happen? Who knows … All I can say is that when I realised writing was becoming an important part of my life, I did what I always do when it comes to the important things in my life – I took it seriously.


English is not my first language, but as it turned out, this was just a small obstacle amongst other, bigger obstacles. Take plot, characterisation and dialogue, for example. And that other thing, publishing? I’ve heard that’s tough too.


So, how's that novel of yours coming along?

Well, er … I don't really like to talk about it.

What's it about then? Vampires, wizards? Oh, I know. It's like that fifteen grapes of shame book.

Huh? No… I don't know. I guess it’s a love story.

Wow, I would love a signed copy.

Sure, I just ... I have to publish it first.

And how long is that going to take?


Often in life we make decisions. Big decisions. The Last Beginning Blogᅠis about one such decision. This is how it all started.


In September 2007 I returned from a trip to New York to find out that my laptop had been invaded by a virus. Programs were shutting down, files were disappearing in front of my eyes; it was bad. With some luck I managed to save some of my stuff, and after I cleaned my laptop, I sat down to review the content and to check whether anything was missing or appeared suspiciously modified by the virus.


And that was when it hit me. I read file, after file, after file of beginnings: a beginning of a short story, a second beginning, and then a few more; a beginning of a novel; a second beginning of a novel; a dedication; a working title, two, three, four. I was overwhelmed. I have been writing, or at least trying to, for years. Beginnings, dedications, working titles… and all I had was a collection of orphaned ideas, each of which I had quickly abandoned because of my lack of confidence and belief that I could be ... what? That’s right – a writer.


In October 2009 l started a novel, but this time it was different, because I promised myself that I would finish it. No matter the doubt, the bad English, the agonising over grammar rules, I just had to keep writing. I had my full-time job (I still work twelve-hour shifts as a critical care nurse) so I couldn’t write every day, but gradually I realised something very simple. Words had magical powers. They formed in my mind, lined into sentences, shaped into paragraphs, and built a story, even when I wasn’t in front of the computer. I didn’t have to do anything else except let it happen.


In October 2009 I also started a novel diary. Initially, it was meant to be a word count tracker, but gradually it became something more. Here’s an example.


This was then. Did I feel like abandoning the novel over the next few years because it wasn’t any good? Of course. Maybe on a weekly basis. But I didn’t.



A few months ago I printed out the whole manuscript, organised the chapters, clipped them together. Every writer has a first reader, and mine was my sister. It was the strangest feeling, seeing all the chapters stacked up on the kitchen top, realising I’d done it. It was a great feeling, and terrifying at the same time.

Because, ah ... the publishing thing!


Well, writing comes first. Writing should always come first. Everything else would follow from that.


Thank you for visiting my blog.

And may the Words be with you!

Emilia Leigh

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