The Terrible Tale of how Paul Holbrook got off his arse and started writing.
So when and why did I start writing? Well, it depends how far back I decide to tae it. When I was at
Junior school I wrote a story that my teacher loved so much that she took me to the headteacher, so
that I could show him. She said that it was the best story she had ever read by a student, and the
headteacher, although I remember him as a very grumpy man who once made me write 100 lines for walking on the grass, agreed with her. I was asked to write the story out neatly and it was stuck on the wall in the school reception. It was obviously a wonderful story, but I can’t for the life of me
remember what it was about (I know there was a helicopter involved).
Fast forward past my time in secondary school (a terrible waste of time, during which I got into lots
of trouble, refused to do any work in lessons, and subsequently threw my immediate career choices
down the toilet). In my twenties I wrote a couple of songs for a band I was in. We were hoping to
take over the world, and we were called The Inevitable Split. Needless to say the inevitable
happened and the world was safe once more. My songwriting career was over.
I loved the process of writing though. When I first met my wife I was a psychiatric Nurse working
night shifts in an assessment ward in North London. The nights were relatively quiet, when I wasn’t
sat talking happy bollocks with the patients, and so I would write to my future wife. I wrote poems
and I wrote poetry. The letters were long, rambling affairs and the poems were iffy at best. At the
end of my shift I would leave the hospital walk the two miles back to my house, go past my house
and walk the extra mile to the house share where my future wife lived. I would post the letter
through the letterbox and and then go home to sleep for the day. Kathryn, for that is her name,
would wake up and come downstairs to find a freshly written epic of love on her doormat.
After I left the hospital and moved to the glorious north, to marry and have children, I didn’t write
anything for years. I had ideas and stories running around my head, and I knew that I could do it if I
put my mind to it, but I never got around to writing them down.
Then disaster struck.
About seven years ago me and the fam were back down in London to visit friends. During the trip
we took a journey to the British Museum which I loved. On the way home, whilst making sure that
my children were safely squished onto the tube train, I made the terrible mistake of not making sure
that I was entirely safe. The train doors closed – on my head. They opened again – and then shut
again – on my head. Cue four months of headache, CT Scans, acupuncture, heavy medication, and
the only thing which made it better – silence.
In four months at home I started writing again. First poetry and then a short story or two. I joined a
website called Jottify, where I met other writers and learned my craft. Jottify was a wonderful place,
where I felt able to publish my work, not matter how shoddy, and receive constructive feedback and
support from others. I made many good friends there, most of whom have remained in the virtual
world of the internet but some that I have had the pleasure of meeting in the real world.
Jottify died one day and didn’t come back. It was a shame, but it had given me the boost that I
needed and the realisation that I loved to write and could do so with some degree of adequacy.
More importantly though, it was an outlet for my mind. I have always had a hummingbird brain,
constantly flitting from one idea to the next, never settling and always having a feeling inside that
there was something missing. That is not to say that I was not entirely happy in my life, my wife and
children mean everything to me and are the centre of my world, but it was only when I started
writing that I felt ‘mentally whole’. You see, I suffer from long bouts of depression and anxiety, and
have done for a very long time. These periods of distress haven’t left me completely but they are
less frequent visitors, and for that I am grateful.
And that is why I write, not for any grand ideas of Rowlingism, although the money would come in
handy, but more to stay just that little bit saner.
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