With a week to go until my debut novel, The Suffering, is unleashed into the world, I wanted to tell you a story from when I was about 19 years old. This was at a time when I was feeling a little lost after a turbulent few years in my life, but I knew one thing and one thing only: I was going to be writer. It was the only thing I wanted to do.
I had no aspirations to be a doctor or a teacher. While my classmates were taking language classes so they could bag their dream roles in the tourism industry, perfecting tints and perms in beauty school, spending weekends at cadets to give themselves the right tools for a career in the army, or volunteering in a local lab while they worked through their science credentials, I was shut up in my room scribbling plots and character profiles.
I was close with my then-boyfriend’s mother, who was into new-age practices and spiritual awareness. One Saturday, she took me on a day out to a spiritual convention in Manchester. The day itself was a lot of fun, strolling from stall to stall. I browsed rows of glistening coloured crystals and listened to the whistle of a wand whizzing around the rim of a metal bowl. I was sprayed with various aromatherapy scents and advised which angel I should try and link to (Sandalphon – I even remember that today, for some reason, not that he and I have ever been in touch of course!)
We closed off the day with a psychic reading from a woman I was assured was “amazing” and “always right”. There was no crystal ball or velvet-covered table scattered with tarot cards. There was just a middle-aged, blonde-haired woman, smiling pleasantly as she took my twenty pounds and asked me to sit down opposite her. The reading was pretty generic, I imagine. Vague talk of a man in a military uniform hanging around, and general observations about my personality type. At the end, she asked me what I wanted to do with my life. I enthusiastically told her my dream: I wanted to be a writer.
“A writer?” she said, looking thoughtful for a moment. “No. I just don’t see that for you”.
I thanked her and went on my way but inside I was crushed. Remember, I was only 19 and very impressionable at that time, so when someone told me they could see into the future, I believed them. I remember going home and sitting in the bath crying my eyes out. My dream was pointless. The only thing I wanted to do with my life was never going to happen for me. It was devastating.
The thing is, I love writing. Even though I didn’t think it was in my stars to be a professional writer, I didn’t stop. I couldn’t. Yes, it knocked my confidence. Perhaps things would have moved a little faster if it weren’t for that set-back. I do believe that dashing people’s dreams in that way is cruel and irresponsible. I’m more sceptical now, of course, but I believed her wholeheartedly at the time. Perhaps, like some people often say to justify a mis-fired psychic reading, that was what I really needed to hear in order to make it happen for myself. Maybe the stubborn part of my brain needed a battle of wits. An, “oh, you don’t think I can do it? Well, let me prove you wrong!” Who knows?
All I do know is that in exactly 1 week from now, I’ll be a published author. When people shoot down your goal and make you doubt yourself, always remember that the future isn’t already written. You have the chance to make your dreams come true.
No matter what anybody else says.