Letter to my younger writing self with Fiona Gibson

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By Jade Craddock

Last month saw the launch of our new feature: Letter to my younger writing self, and in this next instalment, Fiona Gibson pens her missive.

Dear Fiona,

So you want to write books. You write at the moment – multi-choice quizzes for Jackie and Just Seventeen, features about boys and interviews with the pop stars of the day. Morten from Aha is rude to you, and Simon Le Bon is lying face down and naked, having a massage, when you arrive to quiz him in Stockholm. You love your job but like to imagine that one day, you will be a proper writer.

What you don’t realise is that this is your life, right now – so try to appreciate and relish every moment of nonsense and fun. You will write books one day, but I should warn you that this will involve sitting alone in a room for a very, very long time – do you really want to quarantine yourself away when there are larks to be had?

Don’t wish your young life away. Learn about fiction by writing short stories – but be quick, because one day the teenage magazines that publish your offerings will be gone. I know you want to go on a writing course with a Proper Writer who is respected and famous – but don’t expect this to unlock some casket of secrets. And don’t be too disappointed when said author turns out to be a grizzly old curmudgeon whose only words of advice to you are, ‘You’re probably best sticking to writing for teenagers.’

You’re gutted! Of course you are – because you’re, what, 22 years old and want to be serious now! But please be patient. At some point in the distant future you will write a book – and it’ll be a bad one. Don’t worry. Just shove it aside, read the authors you genuinely love and be inspired by them.

You can do it. You’ve spent years writing – graduating from manual typewriters to electric ones (fancy!) and then the whizzy Amstrad you clack away on now. Insure it, as you’ll get burgled! I know I sound like a tedious aunt. And back up your documents like the computer guy at the office keeps nagging you to do. You know the one – your friend snogged him at the office party thinking he was a cast member from Home and Away. ‘He’s not at all big headed,’ she slurred that night, ‘when you think what he does for a job.’ ‘He does the computers,’ someone murmured into her ear.

Anyway, back to your book. When you feel ready, write another one and send it to an agent. You imagine agents as terrifyingly grand, with panelled offices – but they are just normal people who can make books happen. One day you’ll have a lovely one of your own, and you’ll sit drinking wine with her in the garden of a beautiful restaurant in Notting Hill.

Doesn’t that sound properly grown-up, and pretty swanky? But first, you’ve got to write that book.

Fiona Gibson lives with her husband and their daughter in Glasgow (her grown-up twin sons have flown the nest). She has written 13 novels for adults and 4 for children, and when she’s not writing she loves to cook, draw, run and hang out with her family and their collie cross, Jack. She is currently training for the Edinburgh marathon. Fiona’s next novel, The Mum Who’d Had Enough, is published on June 14.


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