I think you're expecting me ... by Jo Carroll
Knock knock … can I come in?
I’ve been invited, so I think you are expecting me. What an erudite lot these electric authors are. I
feel a bit of an interloper beside writers of such
|Bombs and Butterflies by Jo Carroll|
Shall I tell you a bit about myself? Well, I didn’t set out to be a writer. I spent years working in Child Protection, which is important, and I’m proud of all I achieved. I wrote numerous articles, and a book, and did some Serious Research; and then – on a bit of a whim – gave it all up to go travelling, on my own. Well, thirty years protecting children is a long time.
I came home from trotting round the world (in my mid-50s, just to make it more difficult) with boxes of notebooks and more stories than I had people to listen to them. Write a book, someone said. Well, there were worse ways to fill my time, now I was home and trying to decide what to do next.
Soon after that, I won a place at a mentoring scheme at Exeter University. I’d thought to use my notebooks as a foundation for short stories. No, said my mentor, you’re at your strongest writing about lived experience. And what’s different about my experience was lugging a rucksack the world on my own at an age when many women settle for gardening.
So I wrote it.
Rewrite it, he said; get closer to yourself. Don’t talk of places you can see on the telly. Tell us about things that happened, things that haven’t happened to anyone else.
Does that mean I have to talk about the man with the gun in Lucknow?
Man? Gun? Of course, he said.
So I had to tell my children, about getting lost on a beach in Australia, the snakes in Malaysia, and the man with the gun in Lucknow. I’m safe now, I told them, trying to make a joke of it (though they struggled to see the funny side). And then I wrote the book again. And again. Until my mentor said, now it is good enough. Publish it.
So I did.
Then I taught myself HTML (goodness, what a lot of bad language that involved) so I could construct my own website, with some travel writing and stories and poems and even a picture or two. You can find that here.
|Hidden Tiger, Raging Mountain|
Where next? Well, since you’ve asked … on the basis of my writing and general pottering about online, I’ve been approach to review a coach trip – to France. I get free transport and free accommodation for a couple of nights, and all I have to do is review the facilities on the coach. I had a choice of Lille, or Lyon, or Paris. How to choose? It came down to practicalities: the time my bus got into Victoria Coach Station (in London) connecting with their coach to Lille, arriving in the early evening, giving me time to find my way around.
Goodness, a proper travel writer! I never thought I’d wear that label.
And I’ve bought a flight to Havana.