Nicky Clifford talks about fulfilling your itch to write.
Everywhere you look there are guides and courses and hints and tips about how to fulfil the itch within you to write the book that has been bubbling under the surface for years. Let me tell you how I turned this lifelong dream into reality by publishing my debut novel.
From an early age
It all started with Mills and Boon… I was an avid reader of romance from an early age. I used to dream up countless stories of ‘boy meets girl’ but when I sat down to write, my mind went completely blank.
Shaping your craft
So I signed up for various correspondence writing courses, but my lack of confidence left these abandoned by the wayside, together with an intense feeling of frustration and failure. The best thing I did, many years later, was to sign up for the ‘Write a Novel’ evening course at my local university. Not only did I learn a huge amount about writing in general and how to shape a novel, I also met like-minded, writerly people. When the course finished, we set up a writing group, which has been instrumental in me reaching ‘The End’.
Writing my first book
The saying ‘write what you know’ was certainly true for me. I churned out my first novel shortly after separating from my now ex-husband. Every spare moment, in between juggling too many balls as a single, working parent, was spent writing. Finishing my first novel (about a recently divorced thirty-something…) boosted my confidence. Whilst it was disappointing not to be accepted by a literary agent, this didn’t dim my passion to write on.
Keep on, keeping on
Since then, I have written two further novels and three half-finished novels. The writing process isn’t always easy. There are times when my writing flows like a waterfall and others where it reduces to a mere trickle. I have learned to write through the blank times by brainstorming what might happen next or what would be interesting to include. Surprisingly, some of my best writing has sprung from my creative ‘trickles’!
Write forwards not backwards
I used to spend hours agonising over one paragraph, re-reading what I had already written and madly editing rather than progressing with the next chapter. There are still times when I worry that everything I write is rubbish. Whatever feelings I have, however, I try to keep pushing forward – there will be plenty of time for editing when I reach ‘The End’.
Showing others your writing
Yes, I was scared to let others read my draft novel and to ask for feedback. I was elated by the positive comments and disheartened by the constructive. However, my writing improved hugely as a result.
Okay, so self-publishing Never Again has been a long, challenging and yet rewarding process. I’ve been on a steep learning curve and have been lucky enough to have had a lot of help along the way. However, I cannot put into words the magical feeling of holding my very own book in my very own hands for the very first time. Contrary to my debut novel’s title, it just makes me want to do it all over again!
Never Again opens its pages high up in the Swiss Alps. Harriet Anderson, trying to escape her past, meets Philippe Smith, the mysterious crime writer. Both have secrets hidden away, which threaten the relationship building between them.
With one errant father and a few equally errant boyfriends behind her, Harriet distrusts men. When she discovers that Philippe is not all he seems, she vows to keep her distance from him. But it is not that simple; Philippe is a guest at the Hotel Neueranfang where Harriet works as a waitress. They are regularly thrown together, and find it impossible to resist the attraction sizzling between them.
If only Sophie hadn’t exploded into Wengen to wreak havoc. If only Lauren hadn’t stormed in with an army of press by her side. If only Greg hadn’t tracked Harriet down, bringing with him a powerful bargaining tool.
Harriet’s new friends do their best to keep her sane: Jo, a waitress from the Welsh valleys; and Elspeth, an irrepressible 80-year-old guest with an uncanny ability to shock. Harriet does, however, have competition in the form of Becky Randalph-Goodheim: an arrogant, brash American and walking cliché. The arrival of several ginger-haired brothers does not help this already tangled situation.
Following an unpleasant shock, Harriet hotfoots it back to the heart of Berkshire in England where life does not get any simpler. Harriet is torn between two men; this is further complicated as one man brings with him something that Harriet cannot bear to live without. After much indecision and following several dramas, Harriet finally makes her choice. It doesn’t take her long to realise that she has made a terrible, terrible mistake, but by that time, Philippe has walked away.
Will Harriet and Philippe ever find their ‘happy ever after’?
Writing has always been a passion for Nicky Clifford; from the age she could hold a pencil, she has penned poems, short stories and articles, many of which have been successfully published. Nicky’s dream of seeing her novel in print, however, didn’t materialise until just after her 50th birthday. Nicky works part-time for a local charity. She was a keen ice-skater, but has recently hung up her boots to spend more time practising ballroom dancing with her husband and relaxing with her friends and family at home in Berkshire.