It gives me great pleasure today to introduce, Judith Barrow, an author I greatly admire. Judith has come along to Patricia’s Pen to talk about her writing journey. Without further ado, it’s over to Judith.
My Writing Journey
Every now and then I read about an author’s journey into publishing, which always leads into thoughts about my own convoluted journey.
Like many writers I’ve dabbled in creative writing since childhood: poems, articles, short stories, competitions, and pieces in newspapers.
Years ago when the children joined in various sport activities, and in the spirit of giving something back to those groups, I joined their committees ‒ usually fooled into the unpopular post of minute secretary. It was after the presentation of one set of minutes that I was bluntly told by another member that I “should go into writing novels” after presenting the minutes of a particularly volatile meeting. Caught up in the moment I’d written how one man “shouted”, “banged on the table”, “insulted *******”, and finally “walked out”. It was a true account, but, looking back, it’s understandable that I was asked to relinquish my post. Recollecting this I’ve often wondered why I hadn’t done similar on other committees; it would have saved me years when I could have been honing my creative writing skills in a more productive way.
Much later, one of our daughters was adamant she was leaving school before A levels. I persuaded her to take an evening class with me (but only in English language – there was no point in asking me to take an A level in Maths, not after barely scraping by with a D at GCE level)
It started well enough ‒ well, for me anyway ‒ she soon found out that going to night school with mum was ‘not cool’. She went back to her own school. I carried on. A year later I was awarded an A – was pronounced “Learner of the Year” in the county and encouraged to apply for a BA Open University course.
Four years later, with one year off to tackle breast cancer, I gained the degree. and had written a book. Which, with trepidation I sent out to agents.
There was no stopping me! I applied to take an MA in Creative Writing.
And a year after that, was “headhunted”, no less, to be tutor of creative writing for the county.
Ever heard of imposter syndrome? That was me for the first year of teaching. One day “someone will find me out ‒ I’m really just a housewife and mother ‒ oh, and working in the civil service,”(my so-called proper job).
Once, I was contacted by an agent, only to be told, the day after, that she thought I was someone else ‒ didn’t want me.
Another agent sent my book to a commercial editor. I had to pay (yes I was that daft). The result ‒ a story I didn’t even recognise as my own. I said goodbye to that agent.
Then I found my publishers, Honno. I’d arrived as an author. At last!
And I was thrilled to have one of my books, The Memory, shortlisted for the Wales Book of the Year 2021 (The Rhys Davies Trust Fiction Award).
About Judith Barrow
Judith Barrow, originally from Saddleworth, a group of villages on the edge of the Pennines, has lived in Pembrokeshire, Wales, for over forty years.
She has an MA in Creative Writing with the University of Wales Trinity St David’s College, Carmarthen. BA (Hons) in Literature with the Open University, a Diploma in Drama from Swansea University. She is a Creative Writing tutor.
She has had six books published with https://www.honno.co.uk, the longest-standing independent women’s press in the UK.
Her next book, Sisters, will be published by Honno in March 2023 and she is currently writing her next family saga.
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