This week on Guest Blog Wednesdays at The Australian Bookshelf we are joined by Australian author, Tracey Campbell. Welcome Tracey!
Because You Have To
“You’ve gotta’ dance like there’s nobody watching,
Love like you’ll never be hurt,
Sing like there’s nobody listening,
And live like it’s heaven on earth.
(And speak from the heart to be heard.)”
– William Purkey
When I was ten years old I decided I was going to become an author. I remember crawling my story in blunt lead pencil on pages and pages of computer paper I’d folded in half to make a booklet, triumphantly writing the page numbers down the bottom as I went, thinking I was ‘just like a real author’. I wrote at least fifty pages, which is pretty good for a ten year old. I don’t remember what it was about – but I do remember the heroine’s name – ‘April Holworth’. I should use that name again in one of my books, just for old times’ sake!
A few years after my first attempt at ‘being an author’, I entered a writing competition. I wrote a sad story about an old man and gave my
handwritten manuscript to a friend of my mother’s to type up for me. Those were
the days before everyone had household computers, so seeing my story all professionally typed on fresh white paper was a real novelty. I sent it away and
a month later was thrilled to be informed I came ‘runner up’.
At the age of twenty I came across a Mills and Boon short story competition in a magazine. The prize was a new laptop, a trip to London to see the M&B editors, and a writing contract. The closing date was only a day or so away, so I didn’t have much time to work on my entry. I thrashed a quick one out on my hand-me-down PC, and sent it off. I barely gave it a second thought until the day a big box arrived filled with Mills and Boon romance novels – I’d won another second prize.
My little successes, and the encouragement of my family and friends, got me to thinking perhaps I did have some writing talent and I should try my hand at writing for a living. I wanted to write Mills and Boon type romances, but I was worried – can someone who has never really experienced ‘romance’ write about romance? I tried to write, but self-doubt crept in, and I was sure my writing screamed I’d never really experienced romantic love in my life. Readers would laugh at my work!
I put my writing ambition on the back burner, and got on with my life. I married early on and had four babies. It was an unhappy marriage; my partner was someone who didn’t believe in expressing emotions (other than angry ones). During those years I stifled any creativity which might expose my inner self to his contempt and ridicule. I could feel my imagination ‘rusting up’ – the cogs of self-expression coming to a grinding useless halt.
That was many years ago. I’m nearly 43 and happily married now to a man who has no problem expressing his emotions – in fact, I credit him with helping me to ‘de-rust’ those petrified cogs of self-expression. It started with a few emails, which led to some short stories and blog posts and eventually I gained enough confidence to start writing the manuscript which would make me an ‘author’. I now realise it doesn’t really matter what people think of the feelings I share which expose the ‘inner me’.
I used to think people who proclaimed things like ‘I write because I have to’ were rather pretentious, but now I understand. Humans need to be creative – we need to express whatever it is which makes us unique, ourselves. I was lost for many years because I didn’t have that, and the difference now is like chalk and cheese – I feel ‘human’ again.
‘Dance like there’s nobody watching’ sounds much more poetic than ‘write like there’s nobody reading’, but really, the adage can be applied to anything creative. Whether you write, sing, play an instrument, draw, paint, or act, it doesn’t matter – do it for yourself and stop worrying about what other people think. Your soul will soar if you let it have its wings.
More about Tracey: Tracey Lee Campbell grew up in Sydney, Australia, before moving to Queensland as a teen. She has been writing stories since she was very young and wrote her first manuscript when she was just ten years old. She has always had an interest in things which can be classed as ‘highly strange’, the mysterious and the spooky. In 2010 she decided to combine her two passions to produce a paranormal romance series. The book, Starcrossed: Perigee, is the first in the trilogy. Tracey lives in Australia with her husband and children.
I have been provided with a review copy (digital) of Tracey’s new novel Starcrossed: Perigee. Keep an eye out for the review!
If you would like to feature on Guest Blog Wednesdays at The Australian Bookshelf- whether you are an author, reader, writer, blogger- drop me a line at jayne.fordham(AT)live(DOT)com.au and tell me a bit about yourself.