I am a former British police officer who lives in England. Several unique life experiences, near death encounters, reduced physical abilities and emotional incidents have combined to provide a firm foundation for my stories, poems and paintings.
At the age of 30, after combining an accidental blow to my head with a late night party, I survived my first massive stroke. To return to the job I loved proved to be a sometimes amusing, sometimes daunting struggle that took 18 months. With great pride in this achievement, I survived another 11 years as a fully operational, uniformed police sergeant. During this time, I stretched his mind to the limit by studying for a degree.
Nine years after that first stroke, everything was put on hold with the collapse of my 19-year marriage. Throughout the loneliness and despair of being homeless, prayer sustained me and brought me to a new life, new love, but most of all, a loving and welcoming family that was happy to love me as their own.
It was meant to be a happy ever after ending to the tragedies, but just 16 days after my second marriage, a road accident caused a second major stroke, bringing my working life to an abrupt end. Undaunted and determined to defy the paralysis, I took up music and art, achieving grades in piano and despite having a right arm that I can barely control, I managed to play the violin! My paintings have been generously described as breath taking. Some of my paintings can be seen on my website.
After a third stroke came my way, I turned my attention towards writing. I began with a few short stories and then produced my first full-length novel. I engaged a professional copy editor, and between us, we produced a great and presumably error-free story, but for me, it felt as though I had lost something. Not in the writing, for the words on the paper were still my words and my voice told the story, but something deep-rooted and personal had been taken away.
During the time I studied art at the local college, the tutor took my brush and tried to demonstrate a technique by adjusting the picture on my canvas. This was his way. He would move from student to student, take up the brush or pencil and twiddle with the image, but for me, the painting had become distant, remote and no longer mine. I can only attribute this overwhelming sense of loss to the brain damage caused by the strokes.
That was the same feeling of loss I felt with my first professionally edited novel. I had lost the much-needed sense of personal achievement, which until then had been the driving-force in my post-stroke recovery. Although the editing was excellent in every respect, for me, the book had lost its spirit. I grew to despise it for the simple reason that it betrayed not my achievement, but only what I could accomplish with another's input. Just as it was no longer my painting on the easel, it was no longer my words on the page. I took the decision to abandon the novel. My first venture into becoming an author was nearly my last, but one characteristic I share with the fictional protagonist in my crime novels is we do not give up. We never say, “I can’t.”
Just as I had done with my music and art, I applied myself to studying. I followed on-line courses and read everything I could lay my hands on until I’d learned various editing practices and techniques. I focused on developing a system to hone my writing through several different stages until it was my best, and not my best enhanced, improved or adjusted by someone else.
My first stroke wiped away my language memory, so the only English words that remained were ‘every’ and ‘each’. My books reflect all that I have learned since through dedication, application and perseverance. Each word I write represents another step along the journey, and if you have ever had a stroke, you might appreciate how difficult a step can be.
However, I never recommend any writer edit their own work unless like me, they only have half a brain and have spent years trying to perfect a system that works, but I have taken on the challenge and enjoyed every step on the way. My books still get amazing reviews and the occasional bad review, but whether it is 5 stars or 1, I feel I have a right to claim every single star as my own.
I am always happy to help other authors wherever I can, and have designed covers, suggested editing and helped with promotions.
Life is wonderful. Live it. Enjoy it.