Meredith Appleyard discusses the turning point in her fledgling writing career.
Have I always wanted to be a writer? Probably yes, I just took a long time to realise it’s what I needed to do. I love to read and I’ve always had characters and their stories running around in my head – the story I’m working on, the one I’m dreaming about, the book I’ve just read.
My writing journey began in earnest when, some years ago, a friend challenged me – ‘What’s stopping you, Meredith, from writing that novel you’ve always wanted to write?’ She was launching herself into business as a consultant and had developed a ‘workbook’ to help set life goals. I volunteered to give it a test run. The exercise had me thinking – I was unhappy in my job, life sucked in general, so why not pursue my dream. I saved up, took six months off work, planted myself in front of the computer and wrote my first novel.
Of course it was a masterpiece and publishers would be tripping over themselves to have it! When I’d finished I parcelled it up and posted it to a well-known UK publishing house. I was optimistic – even though I suspected I had about zero chance of being picked out of the slush pile, I’d heard stories about authors who’d begun successful writing careers that way.
Then it came. My first, and only, rejection letter. My story wasn’t what they’d been looking for. Well, hello! I remember feeling totally disappointed, not surprised, and in a way relieved. At least I knew, and it hadn’t taken the months people told me it would. I could move on – write it off as an experience and get back to my ordinary life, or write some more and try again. Guess what I chose?
Being the pragmatic person I am, I knew I needed to learn about the craft of writing – obviously I was doing something wrong! Over the next few years I attended workshops and conferences, joined several writers’ groups, and hung out with other writers. And I kept writing.
I had a taste of success in 2008 when my short story, Waiting for Harry, was published in the Romance Writers Australia Little Gems anthology. In 2009 I graduated from the Adelaide College of the Arts with an Advanced Diploma of Arts – Professional Writing. It was a terrific course, I learned heaps but I was exhausted, so for the next two years I didn’t write anything except a filing cabinet drawer full of bureaucratic reports that no one ever read. Which I got paid for!
Like a stone in my shoe not writing nagged at me. I made many false starts during the next two years culminating in a decision to attend a 5-day writers’ masterclass in 2013. This was my last chance. I was either serious about writing…or not. And my wonderful friend gave me another well aimed nudge when she said, ‘Meredith, can you imagine your life without writing?’ I couldn’t.
Fiona McIntosh’s Popular Fiction Masterclass was a turning point. I came away with new knowledge, the confidence to keep going…and a request from Ali Watts, associate publisher with Penguin Australia, to see the full manuscript I’d pitched to her during the masterclass. Several months later Penguin offered me a contract. My first novel, The Country Practice, will be released on 25 February 2015.
It has taken awhile, but I made it in the end. And oh, what a feeling!
After working in a London hospital emergency room, a month as a GP in rural South Australia can’t be that hard – or can it?
Meghan Kimble is taking control of her life. Newly single, she’s returned to Australia to follow her dream of working as a GP. And her first stop is a month-long locum in the colourful community of Magpie Creek. It’s been months since the town has had a doctor and Meghan is generating more than her fair share of attention, especially from forthright farmer Sean Ashby. A handsome man with a difficult past, Sean isn’t shy about making his intentions known to the redheaded medico.
Against her better judgment, Meghan finds herself charmed by the enigmatic Sean. But time is against her and when love threatens to derail her career plans, she is forced to reassess her priorities in ways she never imagined. Is Meghan ready to fall for all that life in Magpie Creek has to offer?
Meredith Appleyard lives in the Clare Valley wine-growing region of South Australia, two hours north of Adelaide. As a registered nurse and midwife, she has worked in a wide range of country health practice settings, including the Royal Flying Doctor Service. She has done agency nursing in London and volunteer work in Vietnam. After her first manuscript was rejected, she joined a writers’ group and completed an Advanced Diploma of Arts in Professional Writing with the Adelaide College of the Arts. When she isn’t writing, Meredith is reading, helping organise the annual Clare Writers’ Festival, or at home with her husband and her border collie, Daisy. The Country Practice is her first novel.