Becoming a published author in my 70’s was certainly not something I planned, although I guess, like most people, I had often daydreamed about it over the years. I found real life always took over, never allowing me the luxury of time to indulge such a whim. Had it not been for COVID and finding myself home alone for weeks on end, I doubt it would have happened.
In April 2020, after two weeks of lying on the sofa, eating too much chocolate, and watching rubbish on Netflix, I decided to pull myself together and try writing a book! I sat up, day and night, frantically transferring my thoughts onto paper, then, once the words began to make some sort of logical sense, I started a new document on my laptop. It was such an exciting moment when the plot, characters and theme started to come alive. The ideas seemed to come from nowhere, they flowed so easily, the words hitting the keyboard almost as soon as they popped out of my head.
It only took me two weeks to write the rough draft of my first novel DAISY (a historical family saga) and much of that time was taken up with research. Having always loved books, I realised the importance of getting my facts right, I certainly didn’t want anyone reading my novel to be offended by me getting dates or important events wrong!
I guess that being older, having lived a colourful life full of ups and downs, is an advantage as a writer. You have so much experience to draw on, have met so many interesting people to inspire you.
Having now published six books in just 18 months, I realise just how much such things have affected my writing. So many events and characters are drawn from my memory, without me realising it at the time. It is often only much later, on re-reading my work, that I realise just how much my past is influencing my words. They always say you should write about what you know.
I feel very fortunate having not started my author career until I was almost 70 years old, I have such a wealth of subjects to choose from. It means I have been able to write both historical novels, my autobiography and now a travel memoir, by just tapping into my own memories.
In addition, I have discovered a great love of research, something that eluded me when I was a reluctant schoolgirl! Now I find great joy in exploring facts, events and people. This has obviously been a huge asset and an inspiration in itself. Often, while researching a particular piece of information, I spot something else that sparks my imagination: an old photo, a map, or just something weird and interesting. I scribble a note of these, planning to use them at some later date. The downside of this is I now have files full of scrappy bits of paper, all containing highly important information I may one day use in a book! My intention is to compile these all neatly, cataloguing them in order of date and subject matter. But for now, it remains a pipe dream, a bit like a New Year’s Resolution that never quite sees the light of day. I am far too busy writing new books!
Having become a published author at such a late stage in my life, I am thoroughly enjoying my new career. I have heaps of new ideas and now intend to write until I die!
Seventy Years’ Worth of Travel by Pat Backley, RRP $24.95