Am I a reluctant writer? In the 80’s my aim was to be a photographer. I won my first camera through writing. That should have told me something, but it didn’t ring any bells. I charged ahead into the world of photography and stayed there for the next 35 years. I am still taking photographs.
The competition I won was in a prestigious photography magazine, The British Journal of Photography, for a 1500 word article entitled, ‘The Social Influence of the Photographer’. I won a Pentax. I was 17.
From the early 80’s I worked as an editorial photographer: as a staff photographer, ran my own picture library, and freelanced for the national media. Oh … and from 1984, in the midst of all this, I travelled around the world photographing major snooker tournaments.
I enjoy editorial photography and photojournalism. In hindsight, throughout my career, I can see that I have tried to write through photography. It didn’t always work – sometimes it did. It is challenging to portray emotion through photographs, in the way that painters express themselves. There are many great photographers who have managed this.
Writing grew insurrectional, infiltrating into my career as a photographer. In my first job, as a local newspaper photographer, I researched, edited and wrote a weekly page on outdoor activities and groups in the area.
In 1984 – just before Dennis Taylor won the world snooker championship with that amazing final black against Steve Davis – I expanded my photography into snooker and over the years built up the most comprehensive library of snooker photographs in the world. Then, in 1993, I wrote a book on snooker players. Writing resumed its campaign in my life.
In 2004 the winds of change turned into gales. The desire to write grew stronger. The photography market had been changing for a while. Maybe it was time to embrace writing? However, it was a little disconcerting to focus on writing as a new career when I already had an active career in photography. Over time my photographs have accompanied hundreds of news and magazine articles.
My latent desire to write continued unabated, and in 2009 became overpowering. I decided to focus on writing full-time – photography was sidelined – something I would never have thought possible.
I did had have some writing successes during this transitional phase. Three articles were published in a Christian magazine, just before it went into a receivership. My first step on the ladder of success had snapped.
For the next three years I lost the plot. My vision became muddied and unclear. What I had previously seen with so much clarity, was now opaque. I sank deeper into the quicksand of indecision. In 2011, I stepped back onto dry land: into the safety of paid employment. I suppose the golden rule, which I have read from so many writers, is, don’t give up the day job, yet this is exactly what I had done.
I knuckled down to my job. I enjoyed it. It was a new environment, and I worked with some nice people. Two years later, the impulse to write returned. I made a determined effort to block it. I didn’t have writer’s block – I had to block writing.
In July 2013 I left my day job; closing the door on employment. I began to push on a new door into writing. Having been self employed for 30 years, I knew the score. I wasn’t stepping into unknown territory, just returning to what I had always done, but in different clothes. That time of indecision had strengthened me. I was stronger. The weaknesses I had experienced were my crucible.
I pursued writing. I discovered how committing it is – photography is relatively easy in comparison. I knuckled down to study the craft, receive inspiration, clarity, put in the time, be dedicated, receive feedback, cope with rejection, disappointment, keep going, and above all, enjoy it. I read lots of books about writing. I read lots of books by good writers. I taught myself to read again. I got another article published in Cumbria Magazine, about the lunar eclipse over the Langdale Pikes.
I enjoy writing. I embrace it. It is exciting to pursue something that is so challenging. I use my skills in photography and writing. I enjoy non-fiction: researching, compiling facts, taking photographs, then producing a compete article.
I love to write fiction, allowing my imagination wander, but I would probably starve to death before landing the first book deal, or winning competitions. I write constantly: short stories, flash fiction, have many ideas for stories. I have won two competitions for short stories.
I recently finished a course at the London School of Journalism. Currently I am studying for a diploma in Copywriting, and progressing through a course on comprehensive writing at The Writers Bureau – they should keep me busy for the next two years.
The Guardian, The Times, Mirror, Sun, Mail, Independent, Express, Scotsman, Record, Telegraph, Times Educational, People …
Christianity Magazine, Inspire, Country Walking, Bella, Best, Take a Break, Great Outdoors, Climber, Trail Walker, Cumbria, Snooker Scene, Cuesport, Sportsworld …
Lake District National Park, Cumbria Tourism, Imperial Tobacco, Karen Earl PR, Benson & Hedges …