I started writing by plagiarising a well-known author. It’s true. I was so enthralled by Noddy, I copied it out, letter by letter, word by word onto any scrap paper I could find, and used the posh cardboard tickets for a Christmas dance as the covers for my ‘book’. My mum wasn’t very happy (now there’s an understatement for you) that I’d scored out ‘UCM Christmas Special’ and replaced it with ‘Noddy by Kathleen Kehoe’. I was seven. Sorry, Enid …
I progressed. By twelve I was churning out a ‘book’ every few months. Thankfully, these stories were all from my own imagination: Kay Goes Back In Time (I, II and III) … Princess in Distress … Journey to Earth … all full of toe-curling, gut-wrenching, eye-popping mistakes (any, spelled eny … oh dear). But hey, I had fun. And that’s what writing’s all about.
I failed a lot of exams at school (too busy writing about Kara, Mara and Zara from a distant galaxy who crashed on Earth just in time for the school dance…). My lovely dad begged the headmaster for a second chance for his dreamer of a daughter and I passed some of the more important exams second time round, but my secondary school years were full of interesting marks that I know gave my parents a lot to sigh about: 7½ for Geography (What? They couldn’t just put it up to 8?); 13 out of 300 for the combined science subjects: biology, chemistry and physics. Arithmetic … oooh, don’t ask. But look: English – pass! Woopee. Once, when I passed six exams out of six, my mum’s eyebrows stayed up in her hairline for a week.
I mention these things not because I’m proud I failed those subjects – of course not. I didn’t much care one way or the other – but because I believe exams are no true measure of anyone. Later in life I went on to pass an HND (journalism), trained as a sub editor and proofreader and worked at Cosmopolitan Magazine, rising to be production editor. Then I joined the Sunday Times Magazine as production editor and stayed there for eleven years. Eventually, I decided to ask for voluntary redundancy so I could spend more time doing what I wanted. I did an MA in Creative Writing for Young People at Bath Spa University and loved every minute of it. When I got a distinction for my manuscript I realised maybe I wasn’t as bad as I’d thought… Do what you love and the rest falls into place.
Now I’m a writer and editor. I run my own company – klediting.co.uk – offering copywriting, proofreading and manuscript assessment services. I’m a co-founder of Electrik Inc, and am involved with the Bath Writers Group. I spend my time writing, freelance editing, walking dogs, doing some more writing and editing, trying to wrap my head around social media: facebook, vlogs and blogs, tweets and websites, wondering what new technological missiles are heading my way and how long it’ll be before my head explodes … and, of course, publishing Treasure This.