Today, I’m delighted that author Paula R. C. Readman has come to visit. Her story is one of perseverence against all odds. I am in awe.
The power to be able to change the direction of your life has always been strong in me. I guess it started in school after reading Alfred Lord Tennyson’s poem The Brook. The poem spoke to me about the certainty of changes as the brook makes its journey down the valley as it heads towards the river. The line that’s repeated throughout the poem is ‘Men may come and men may go, but I shall go on forever.’
To me, the poem talks about the driving force of the brook to remain on course with its aim to reach the river, its final destination, no matter what obstacles stand in its way. Like the brook, we all have to deal with barriers that stop us from following our dreams. Mine was the lack of a good education and my dyslexia. I was diagnosed in my junior school but it wasn’t followed up in my senior school. Thus I was labelled slow of learning, which I found very frustrating.
I’ve always had a deep love of books and spent my teenage years at the weekends in a library near to where I lived. I would spend all day reading books on different subjects until closing time. With the help of a librarian assistant who filled in a form for me I was able to take books home to read during the week until my next visit.
At sixteen while travelling to work, I would read novels on the bus. Whenever I got stuck on a word I couldn’t pronounce I would look it up in a small dictionary I carried, to know what the meaning was, so I could try to understand the context in which it was being used. I knew my lack of an education was holding me back, plus I felt deeply embarrassed, too. Being titled slow of learning at school haunted me while I sought work and limited my expectations of life.
By the time I was in my thirties, life had thrown me a few spanners and stopped me from following my dream to be an artist. I failed to get into college, unable to pass the English entry exam to do an art course. Art was the only subject I managed to shine in at school. I loved drawing. My parents’ marriage had broken up when I was in my teens, so they weren’t very encouraging. On the whole I was expected to be self-sufficient, so I became my own driving force wanting to better myself.
I worked mainly in low paying jobs, so money has always been tight for me. My first marriage broke down and I was left supporting myself and a young son while paying off a mortgage and loans. This didn’t leave me much time to think about my dream of being an artist. It was only when I met my second husband, Russell, that I could once again follow my creative heart.
One day at work with my fortieth birthday looming, I decided to become a writer instead of being an artist, to tackle my fear of writing head on. I decided if third world children could learn from books then so could I.
I set myself a challenge to have something published by the time I hit fifty. First I started with non-fiction and wrote several articles connected to my family history. Then I wrote a short story which I showed my work colleague, Lisa Moulds. She told me she wanted to know more about the character. This led me to write a novel.
The novel suffered thirty-five rejections so I set it aside, deciding I needed to work on my writing skills. So for years, I focused on writing short stories and tried to get published that way. I felt I needed to build a body of published work. I wrote a second novel and tried to get that one published too, but once again, more rejections. Slowly, my short stories were beginning to be published which helped build my confidence. Then in 2012, I won the Harrogate Crime Writing Festival & Writing Magazine Short Crime Story competition. My winning story Roofscapes became my inspiration for my third novel. This suffered thirty-seven rejections but I wasn’t willing to give up. With the help of an online friend, Kim Martins, I spent eight months working with her and learnt how to edit. I submitted it to Darkstroke who accepted it. In 2020 I had three books published, and this year I’m pleased to be able to say the first novel I wrote has been accepted for publication. I guess the power of belief is still flowing strong in me.
Paula R. C. Readman is married, has a son and lives in Essex, England, with two cats. After leaving school with no qualifications, she spent her working life mainly in low paying jobs. In 1998, with no understanding of English grammar, she decided to beat her dyslexia, by setting herself a challenge to become a published author. She taught herself ‘How to Write’ from books her husband purchased from eBay. After making the 250th purchase, Russell told her ‘Just get on with the writing.’ Since 2010 she has mainly been published in anthologies in Britain, Australia and America and won several writing competitions. In 2020 she had her first crime novella The Funeral Birds published by Demain Publishing, a single collection of short stories Days Pass Like A Shadow published by Bridge House Publishing. Her first crime novel Stone Angels was published by Darkstroke, who will now be publishing Seeking the Dark, May 2021.
Next week’s post in this series will be from… me. I want to show you that belief doesn’t have to be connected to writing! These posts don’t even have to be about true stories, although next week’s will be.
If you want to take part, do let me know via Contact above or social media.