Are you ready to stand up and ‘Call Yourself a Writer?’ Lorraine Cooke pokes her nose into the writing lives of some of SCBWI’s unpublished authors, to see what made them set out on the journey to being a writer and what keeps them motivated.

Becky Hamilton
It’s time to meet Becky Hamilton from Bath, who is writing MG fiction.

When did you first realise you wanted to be a writer?

At seven my teacher introduced us to the ‘Garden Gang’ series, written by nine-year-old Jayne Fisher, the youngest author ever to write and illustrate for Ladybird Books, and that inspired me. I have written books, poems, articles for magazines, and film scripts but mostly I don’t share them with anyone. Eventually, I became an advertising creative, writing for a living. Seeing my ideas in magazines and on TV fuelled my addiction. After I had children, I decided to learn how to write books for kids.

Do you tell people you’re a writer?

I sort of edge around the subject. I definitely tell people I write but I don’t claim to be a ‘writer’, because then they say ‘oh what have you written?’, meaning real things that exist in the world and can be read by other people. As the answer to that is ‘nothing’, it must prove I’m not a writer, even though I write every day. Crazy, huh?

How do you fit writing around your day job and family?

I work full-time in advertising, and have a (helpful) husband and two daughters, so before I can write I have to get my work-work and my home-work done. After tea I might slope off to my basement to work on my current WIP, Bring on the Moodz! But then my daughters interrupt me, or my husband returns home, so I give up and resume at 11.30pm when everyone is asleep (and I should be too). Too often I have to miss a family day out and sit at the computer to do what I love.

Show us your workspace.

This is a corner of the basement room where I write, freezing in winter and pretty chilly in summer. Not shown here are the bikes, golf clubs, and other junk that hasn’t got a home.

Becky Hamilton

How do you get words on the page?

I have notebooks, scraps of paper, and ideas all over the place. I love brown books from Tiger with plain or squared paper, as lined paper is way too restrictive. I’m trying to be more organised and keep ordered notebooks but it’s just not how I am. I type up my manuscripts in Word on my iMac or laptop.

What keeps you motivated?

Who knows! I just love it and would love to do it more, so motivation isn’t an issue. I’m a member of the Golden Egg Academy, working with Vanessa Harbour and Tessa Strickland, so I get top-notch feedback via editorial surgeries.

What’s the best answer you’ve given to ‘Have you had anything published yet?’

So far, I have only come up with ‘no’ accompanied by a sinking feeling, followed by an air of fraudulent failure.

What’s the best book of writing advice you’ve read?

I struggle to get through advice books but I love Patricia Highsmith’s Plotting and Writing Suspense Fiction, even though I’m not writing suspense fiction!

Finally, what are your ambitions for your writing?

To continue to enjoy writing for the creative pleasure it gives me. And if I ever get something published and other people get to share my pleasure, that will be an added bonus. I’d love to see my book in the window of Waterstones one day.

Thank you, Becky, for letting us get to know you and for being prepared to ‘Call Yourself A Writer’. Here’s your well-earned badge.

CYAW image: Dan Cooke

Lorraine Cooke

Lorraine Cooke has been a SCBWI member since 2011. She writes MG and YA fiction. She has enjoyed finding out about the writing lives of fellow unpublished writers via Call Yourself A Writer.
Twitter: @writesasraine Blog:

Louisa Glancy is a features editor for Words & Pictures
Contact: Twitter: @Louisa Glancy

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