Writer and teacher Jackie began by warning us that she had problems with hearing loss. She said she had a copy writing background and that she liked the longer story format. Her two published books are the self-help ‘Tea and Chemo’ (2015) and the novel ‘Glass Houses’ (2016).
Jackie then went on to describe how she had kept a diary from the age of 13 until at 23 she abruptly stopped. During that time she sometimes found herself using the prose writing to keep her sane, particularly after some serious adverse events in her life. She said that she found two benefits from writing – writing as therapy and writing providing a focus in an increasingly multi-tasking world.
After reading languages at university, Jackie worked for a while in charity fundraising. On being made redundant she decided to take a year to write a novel (which she did) and do freelance copy writing. During that time she had her first child, followed in due course by another. The writing had to stop when one of her very young children suffered a stroke. Although the child recovered, her childhood was very intense so Jackie found that no writing other than copy writing was possible. Nevertheless she was desperate to write. The turning point came when she went on an Arvon course and wrote 10,000 words. She never returned to the first novel, having realised that she had outgrown it.
Jackie then went on to describe how she had got the inspiration for ‘Glass Houses’ from a couple of real-life events. As a result of repeated rejections of the resulting novel, despite targeting her submissions, she chose to do a six-week on-line self-editing course which was very intensive but very helpful. In 2014, halfway through the massive rewrite/edit of the original manuscript which then followed, she got cancer which made the rewriting painfully slow. During that time she ran a blog about cancer and the information she gathered, trying to make it positive. Seeing an opportunity to turn the blog into a book she wrote a precis of what that book might contain and sent it off. At the same time she was submitting the revised ‘Glass Houses’. The result was a phone call saying that a publisher wished to publish both. Further books are in the pipeline although at this stage their precise fate is still uncertain.
After the tea break Jackie answered questions. Among other things she said that she was somewhere between a plotter and a ‘pantser’ although she usually started with a particular final scene in mind. Research can alter the initial plot.
At the end of the talk Sheila and Susan expressed the Group’s thanks to Jackie for what was a very interesting and informative talk.