I think for most writers or bloggers finding a tagline is one of the hardest parts of branding. I mean, you don’t want it to come off cliché, too wordy or totally random, and yet you need to find something that sums you up perfectly. I guess in a way it’s like why most authors I know hate writing blurbs. You have such a huge concept when it comes to a novel, that putting it into less than a thousand words is just plain torture. However, for me, finding a tagline was one of the easiest parts, mainly because how I became a writer was not only much like being backed into a corner with only one route of escape, but also because ever since I began writing it’s been clear to me why I’m doing this. There isn’t any question about why I became a writer. It’s that reason you never want to list as motivation, but something which often puts you on the path you least expect, and which if you’re lucky like me, turns out to be the exact place you should be.
I was desperate.
Desperation is never an ideal state to be in for anyone, but when I’m asked the question Why did you choose to become a writer? I always laugh. This for me was never a choice. It was either extremely bad luck… or if you like, I suppose you could call it reluctantly embraced fate.
Don’t get me wrong, I’ve always loved to write. Always, and I always used to say that writing would be my ideal career… If I had all the money in the world, I used to think as I was browsing through university courses online and pondering my A-Level subject choices, trying to be realistic, trying to make the best future possible for myself in an utterly shit economy with barely any job prospects for new graduates.
It seems though, that no matter how hard I tried, I was set on the destination of writer from the very beginning, unbeknownst to me. My first year at university sucked. No really. It sucked. I was away from home with a group of five roommates I didn’t get on with. I contemplated quitting, and honestly, I realised once all the friends I thought I had made fell away that I wasn’t happy studying my chosen field of Biomedical Science. I was good at it. Really good at it. Which is why when I told my tutor I was swapping over to English I received a wonderfully awful email which said:
“I hope you’re being bullied. That’s the only reason good enough for someone of your potential to quit this course.”
So, without the support of my ex-tutor I swapped. That course saved my sanity, and I went on to do well graduating with 2:1 honours and moving on to study 21st century lit MA.
I was on course to try for a PhD, to go onto be an academic and lecturer which was something I could really see working for me, but alas, life as it often does, had other ideas.
It started the July before my master’s degree studies began, just after I’d returned from a long three-week holiday in Florida. When I was walking around the theme parks in Universal Studios and Walt Disney World, my heels had been giving me pain, and back pain which I have dealt with since the age of fourteen, was gradually getting worse.
I remember the night I knew something was wrong. Having been active my whole life, I found myself unable to move for five days after an intense training session with Mark my Personal Trainer/Boyfriend. I remember thinking how far I’d fallen, how awfully unfit I’d become, but after one or two days of what I was convinced was just a wicked case of delayed onset muscle soreness, Mark told me I needed to go to the doctors.
Months went by, and I was shuffled in and out of doctor’s offices with absolutely no idea what was coming. No idea that my life was about to change.
Then, on October 16th, 2015, I went into the Lincolnshire pain clinic after several rounds of testing and was diagnosed with an illness I’d never even heard of.
The condition meant I no longer had the energy required to study, I was in so much pain, and my memory was shot entirely to shit. My life changed course that day, and as I looked further and further into the disease, finding that there was no cure and that the government here in the UK doesn’t view me as sick enough to qualify for disability benefits, it became clear that my future was in my hands and mine alone.
I had been working on getting my first novel, The Kiss That Killed Me, a book all about mermaids, ready for publication. I started writing it on the side when I was 16, and finally found the time to finish it during my first and second years at university while I lived in a tiny 15 square foot apartment. After my masters fell aside, this was what I had left. This is what I had to work with. I truly believe that we don’t get many God given talents in this life, and when you find one you should exploit it for all it’s worth. But the idea to publish and become a fulltime writer wasn’t even mine when I look back.
That little nugget of genius belongs to Mark, who found my unfinished and typo-ridden manuscript while I was in the shower one day. He read the entire thing that afternoon, and then he told me that If I didn’t publish, I was crazy. I told him that I was fine with being crazy. I didn’t have the nerve to put my stories out there at the mercy of other people I had never even met, but as you now know, the way my life turned out only 2 years later meant that I had very little choice but to take the plunge and hope for the best. Sometimes in all the crazy which has followed pushing publish that very first time back in December 2015, I feel like my life is nothing but a chain of random and entirely unfortunate events. After the fibromyalgia diagnosis had almost settled, I was diagnosed with reactive hypoglycaemia (excessive low blood sugar) and then earlier this year I received yet another medical blow. Ehlers Danlos Syndrome.
See, the thing is with invisible illnesses, they often link with other conditions. My parent condition, Ehlers Danlos Syndrome, is caused by a faulty gene which means my collagen is defective. This causes dislocations, chronic fatigue, weak skin, organ and blood vessel rupture as well as other skeletal problems. It’s been a wild ride, but through it all the one thing which has kept me sane, kept me going, has been my writing.
So that, in a rather large and longwinded nutshell is why I chose Freedom Through Fantasy for the name of this blog. Without writing, something which I never had the courage to pursue before my diagnoses, I never would have survived them. I owe my sanity and positive outlook, my optimism, and my ability to deal with pain and the fear of the future to the worlds I have poured onto the page in no less than one million words… (and counting.) It’s funny, because they say you don’t always get what you want, but if you try sometimes you get what you need.
In all this misfortune however, I found both in becoming an author at the age of 22, and now two years later I can’t imagine my life any other way.