Chalk came to life in my second year of university when my tutor gave us a writing exercise: Write about a character going into a room which they haven't entered for ten years. I sat there thinking of all the possibilities and emotions this character could have gone through, or, could be feeling at this moment.
So I zoned into a kitchen with copper pots and a long, wooden table. And I lost myself in the first paragraph. I wrote something that changed my entire writing process.
Chalk was then a short story called The Jigsaw Puzzle. Mainly because it was about a character finding her family again, but not quite fitting back together. Apart from her sister who was the complete opposite of her, but could still fit together with that long lost bond they once shared.
Back then I didn't have any confidence in myself or my writing whatsoever. However I did feel like there was something in this piece, something I'd never created before. Something that jumped of the page screaming ‘hey, look at me! ME.’ But I didn't voice it. I couldn’t. Lack of confidence struck a chord again.
Despite feeling this way I put Jigsaw into my writing folder and submitted it. When I got the piece back from marking, ready for that slap in the face I usually got, something happened.
I was told by my tutor, Janine Amos, that the opening was so powerful that she went to bed every night thinking about this tortured soul, who today is called Moth, and what her journey could become. This comment brought tears to my eyes, because so far in my degree I had not one tutor tell me I was any good. That my work was riddled with clichés and utter nonsense. I felt like I couldn’t do a thing right and on many occasions felt like giving up. Which just isn’t me.
Janine told me that I had to make The Jigsaw Puzzle into a book! Moth had to be out there. And so, Chalk, one of my greatest achievements so far, came to light. And after re-write after re-write from past tense to present. Characters died and came back to life. I have sent it out to agents and received fantastic feedback. But lots of rejections.
It was finally noticed by an agent from Darley Anderson who saw what Janine, Steve Voake and my class of 2009, the MA Writing for Young People group and lecturers: Julia Green and CJ Skuse, must have seen in my writing.
It’s now being made into a trilogy.
The first 3000 words can be read here in our anthology of creative writing for young people by fantastic MA graduates. Look at all those amazing writers who will one day have their books on the shelves and who have already got agents and publishing deals.