This is an inspirational story and I hope it pushes anyone out there who’s got a flair for writing and wants to realise their passion.
Hi, my name’s Matt and I am an author.
Wow, even now it still feels super weird to say it.
In fact, you’d be surprised how long it has taken me to feel that I can legitimately call myself an author. Years. That’s how long. I have been trying to get my stories published for about ten years but obviously no unpublished author feels that can call themselves an author, right? Of course not. In fact, I always thought that the moment I’d feel comfortable about calling myself an author would be when a publisher made me an offer. The problem was that when that finally happened it still didn’t feel quite right so I told myself I could call myself an author when the advance hit my bank account. I mean the moment when you get paid for writing is a sure sign that you’re an author, right? Well, not quite, because the book still wasn’t real so I told myself that I could call myself “Matt Brown – Author” when l held a copy of my own book in my own hands. But then that happened and it still didn’t feel right so I thought I’d wait until I saw a copy on a bookshop shelf. And then and then and then…
The long and the short of it is that at some point between June 1st 2014, when my first book was published, and now something changed and I felt able stand up, put my hands on my hips, take a deep breath and shout the words, “I’m Matt Brown and I’m an author”. Now you can’t stop me. I tell everyone, even when they haven’t asked me. The other day I told a checkout girl and she’d only asked me if I wanted a carrier bag.
I first started writing for children as a pathetic attempt to curry favour with my own kids. You’ll be pleased to know that it has worked like a charm. They love having a dad who does something that is so plugged in to their own world (although quite what they’ll make of it when they are in their teens is another matter). The best thing about being a children’s author though is your audience. Sure, they are fickle and brutally, eye-wateringly honest but they are also kind and funny and completely untouched by the brush of cynicism. Not like all you stinky, know-it-all grown-ups with your bellies and your hairy toes and your world-weary, heavy sighs.
People often want to know why I got into writing and to me that feels a bit like asking someone why they are a woman or why they have brown eyes. I didn’t choose writing, it chose me. It has always been my preferred way of expressing myself and I have always done it. When I was in school I wrote stories and plays and magazines with friends. After I finished university I started writing short stories and developing ideas. None of it was published, I just really enjoyed doing it. It was a hobby. Then one day I thought I’d get in touch with some agents. Then I got rejected about a million times until one wonderful day someone really liked something I sent them and now you can buy it in a bookshop.
So, to anyone who wants to write I say, “write”. It doesn’t matter what you write, just write. In my time I have written blogs, jokes, diaries, recipes and articles for magazines. All of it was unpaid but all of it made me feel great. Don’t write because you want to earn money, write because you can’t help writing.
The next thing I say to anyone who wants to write is “read”. Reading is wonderful. Reading is beautiful. Reading is the greatest thing I can think of doing with my time. Read anything. Read everything. Read out loud. Definitely read out loud. Read to your partner. Read to your kids. Read books that make you want to keep reading. If you’re not enjoying a book then stop reading it and find another one. Join a book group and read with others. Reading books will make you a better writer. Plus reading on a train makes you look my more sophisticated than playing Candy Crush. That is a fact!
Matt’s Website is mattbrownwriter.com.