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Writing is easy for me. It always has been. I was a pretty dysfunctional kid, with lots of hang ups and I struggled to communicate verbally and make friends.  ‘Debbie is too reticent’ in class was always on my school reports, despite my essay marks generally being high. I was good at English and art. Pretty much the only things I was good at.  When I wasn’t outdoors, my nose was in a book, or I was writing in my various notebooks (then and now, fairly illegible). I graduated to a typewriter early on when I got a red Petite Junior one Christmas, and then a monstrous iron cast off, when my Dad’s work switched to electric typewriters. My fingers were forever falling down the gaps between the keys and I had to learn how to use corrector fluid from the outset – 20 words per minute and 15 mistakes!

I wrote letters to dozens of penpals* around the world, yet could barely hold a conversation with my classmates. I wrote poetry, most of which was angst written rubbish, some of which was passable; I wrote stories; I wrote a diary and I wrote about thoughts and feelings. I simply never lost the habit. You might think that with that sort of run up, I’d have a prodigious catalogue of titles to my name. Writing is the easy bit. Organising a full length story into a novel, editing it, sending it  places – that’s the hard stuff for me. A fear of failure and low self-esteem are not good traits for an author, though I suspect they are not uncommon.  I will never run out of ideas and have never really suffered from writer’s block, but I do struggle with focus, discipline and finishing things – all crucial skills for any author.  I am bad at editing my own work, though perfectly happy to edit someone else’s.  This may give you some idea as to why, despite finding it easy to fill blank pages with words, I’ve produced precious little: a couple of books, some published poetry, a handful of articles in publications.

This year, I have vowed things will change. I have one completed book, which needs editing, a partially completed book which needs a re-write (which I can’t yet face) and a novel I’m most of the way there with, as well some poetry I’d like to submit. The complete book has been complete for ages and the novel I’m prevaricating with. I’ve given myself a hard stare and a good talk and am now making good progress, so watch this space.

Writing is the easy bit, it’s everything else that’s hard.

*for anyone reading this who was born in the digital age, a penpal is someone who you exchange letters with as a hobby, but usually have not met.

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