The Joys of Writing…a personal journey by Stuart G Yates…

The thing is, writing is lonely.

Not that that makes it a bad option. How many of us long to wander through a world of our own, a world where we decide what happens; whether people live or die, are happy or sad, fulfil dreams, end up broken and defeated, where villains get their comeuppance and heroes are just who we want them to be. Wow, wouldn’t you just love that?

My dream was to write. That was it. Nothing any more complicated than that. Yes, of course I had the occasional thought of living on a South Sea island, of sports cars and beautiful women…Stupid, I know…but my main drive was to write. Later, when I finally did become published, the dream changed into wanting to write a best-seller – but more about that another time.

For now, I was sixteen. School had ended – youpi! I’d scraped together two ‘O’ levels. I wasn’t going to get very far with them, but what did I care. I was free. And I didn’t have a job.

So began my first foray into the world of unemployment. This was to happen to me three more times in my life. One stretch without a job was to meander on for thirteen months! This first stint was for only three. And I hardly thought of writing at all, because my mind was on other things. Especially when I finally did find a job. Girls became very important all of a sudden.

I always thought about writing. A friend and I would meet up every Monday evening and we’d write and record comedy sketches. We wrote songs too. Looking back now, I realise how good that time was, how creative and alive it all seemed. I lost touch with Norman, that good friend of mine, and I wish I hadn’t. We could have achieved something, I’m sure.

The sad fact is, when you’re young, you don’t really care. Ideas come, they go. There is always tomorrow. If only I was wise back then (not that I’m much wiser now, but at least experience has taught me quite a few things, most notably the absolute necessity to floss).  

I hated that job. Truly. I wished the weeks away and when I had finally had enough – after spending too many bitterly cold mornings stood on the platform of Exchange Street Station, Liverpool selling newspapers to the groggy-eyed passengers – I decided to put in my resignations…and write.

Sounds bold, doesn’t it. Here he was, the courageous young writer, cast out into the world, to sink or swim by his own efforts. Or short-sighted and idiotic. I’ll leave you to pass the final judgement on that.

So, I took to writing. I’d hole myself up in my room, armed with an Olivetti typewriter, sheets of carbon-paper and about a ten-gallon pot of correction fluid. Paper I found anywhere, even buying it sometimes.

In those days, of course, the writing process was very different. Before the advent of the word processor, it was a case of bashing away on the typewriter keys, stopping every so often to un-jam them as my imagination sped me along. Then, correcting and editing with pencil, followed by more furious typing well into the night. Every so often Dad would appear with a cup of tea, asking me how my ‘memoirs’ were coming on. My memoirs? I was nineteen, with not much of a life to write about at all, but I had stories. Stories in abundance.

I got a job, with the local council. It actually paid good money and it gave me the opportunity to meet lots of people. And the experiences mounted. There’s nothing quite like sitting in the front seat of security van, handing over five hundred pounds of collected rent, whilst watching a car with a house-brick marching with grim determination straight towards you – it focuses the mind, turns the bowels to liquid.

Yes, experiences multiplied. So did the stories. In Nineteen Seventy-Nine, after working every free minute, I finally had a novel ready for submission.

It was fifty-thousand words long and I was very proud of it.

At my local library, I hunted down the Writers and Artists Yearbook, and found a well-known, reputable publisher (yes, in those days publishers actually accepted unsolicited submissions, unbelievable as that may sound now!). I packed my book in a stout manila envelope , included the return postage, a hand-written introductory letter, and posted it off. My new baby, thrown out into the cruel world. Alone. I told you this writing business was a lonely one.

Then I had to wait.

For three months I waited, chewing my fingernails, waiting for the postman every day, the stress building. Dreams of that South Sea island became ever-more dominant in my poor, addled brain. Three months.

Things have certainly changed all right.




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6 responses to “The Joys of Writing…a personal journey by Stuart G Yates…

  1. Colette

    Wow, Stu ! .. that’s good, very good … ‘facility’, your pen seems to have never end, I mean, when I read it … I wonder how many time you ‘need’ to write that captiving text .. sorry for the mistakes, as usual i would need to have the dictionnary scotched here, but I am lazy .. Forgive the approximatif vocabulary .. but I wanted to say that I love your texts … This time, I have taken time to read that second one and wow … I am now waiting for the 3 one !!! XXX

  2. What an awesome, inspiring story, Stuart!! I had to smile when I read about the Olivetti typewriter, since I used the same machine when I wrote poetry as a teenager. 🙂

    I’m glad things turned around for you. A dream should never be allowed to go to waste.

    • Thank you Sandra! Yes, I suppose the whole in writing is to never, ever give up. All of us who have travelled this road know only too well that it is full of setbacks, diversions, road blocks, you name it! Rejection hurts, even if we are tough. In the end, if we want it, success will come. I love writing, I could not live without it. These blogs will course my journey, and I hope you keep reading. Thanks again, you yourself are an inspiration!

  3. Interesting stuff, Stu…the feeling of writing as a struggle against the forces of adversity really comes through. Keep at it.

  4. Brilliant, sounds just like me starting out, sending off an unedited and basically rubbish manuscript that I thought would be the next BIG thing – move over John Creasey – I thought. Some polite ‘criticism’ and 27 years later, I finally finished that book…that’s the thing, never give up. At the start of my writing journey I was told by a ‘helpful’ tutor, ‘You have more chances of being struck by lightning while being eaten by a great white shark than you have of writing a best seller.’ And what do I say to this? Phooey! never surrender!

    • Hi Katy, and thanks for taking the time to come and visit. John Creasy? Wow, I remember him. I think the first thing I read by him was a story about ‘The Toff’, and it cost 1/6 !!! Amazing.
      Yes, you’ve hit the nail on the head. Never give up. I wish your old tutor could read this, and what you have said. It is important to have dreams, they stimulate you, guide you, force you to re-evaluate, keep you focused, all of that and more. I believe that to create brings the greatest joy, and for me that is writing. I have never given up, and I never will. I write, not to make money or become internationally famous, I do so because I love it, and it is so good to find a kindred spirit! Are you published, and if so, what do you write? You can see my books on amazon (either as Glenn Stuart or Stuart G Yates), and there you will see the sort of things I do.
      I write every day.
      I don’t think I could live if I didn’t do that.
      Take care, keep going, and thanks again!

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