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Why turning 40 finally inspired me to chase my dream

Milestone birthdays always make us reflect on our life so far. Combine that with the global pandemic and many of us have worked out we need to make a change. I am delighted to share Natasha’s experience of pursuing her dream to become a successful author. I’ve just finished her novel and will share my review soon.

£They say life begins at 40. Well for me, this milestone birthday was one that I had been dreading for a while, and not just because it meant I was getting on a bit.

My mum was diagnosed with cancer just after her 40th birthday and we lost her when I was aged eleven. Growing up I thought I was invincible but as I reached adulthood, I became convinced that the same thing would happen to me.

It’s quite a terrifying thing to live with, this constant fear of the implications of turning 40, but as well as being a curse it was also, in a weird and wonderful way, a blessing.

I’ve wanted to be an author all my life. As soon as I was old enough to read and write, I was penning (well, probably pencilling) stories. Back in those days they mainly consisted of rabbits who could talk, magical unicorns and girls with their loyal ponies. My teachers told my parents I would be a writer and it turned out that they were right.

But of course I had to do a whole load of procrastinating first.

I didn’t go too off-piste – I trained and worked as a journalist before moving into charity communications, so I was always writing. But as much as I fantasised about being an author, real life and the daunting prospect of writing 80,000 words always got in the way.

That all changed last year, in the shadow of my 39th birthday. I’d had an idea for a novel floating around my head for about a year but had done the sum total of zero with it. But something in me shifted, some deep desire to accomplish what I had always wanted to before I turned 40. You know, just in case it all went tits up after that.

It wasn’t the ideal time to be fair. I had two young children and I’d recently left my job to become a freelance consultant, which kept me very busy. But I made it my New Year’s Resolution to finish my novel and was determined to stick to it.

To help me along the way, I enrolled on a local writing course which promised to help me make progress. Well, it worked a treat for me. Not only did I get some amazing feedback from my course-mates and tutor, which helped me tremendously with the book, it also gave me the proverbial kick up the backside I needed to get down to business. I set a target of writing 3,000 words a week and I usually surpassed it.

Then Covid happened.

You’ll know yourself that having to juggle home-schooling older children, while caring for younger children, while doing the day job, while not losing your mind, is fairly horrific. But I was still determined to keep writing so I just had to change my pattern.

Every Saturday and Sunday I would disappear off to write for a few hours. I’m lucky that a/ my children like watching films and b/ I have a wonderful husband to hold the fort.

Somehow, we muddled through and I finished the first draft in June and had completed the editing in July.

Now my baby was ready to go out into the big wide scary world. Because it’s one thing writing a novel and it’s quite another getting someone to want to publish it. I did my research, targeted relevant agents and publishers and held my breath.

At first there was a flurry of activity – a few “no but it was very close” and a request for the full manuscript. I was in raptures. But days, then weeks went by and nothing. Nada. Zip. Except for the odd rejection trickling in every few days. It’s exhausting refreshing your email constantly for that length of time.

I wobbled for sure, but I refused to give up, brushed myself off and kept looking for new publishers to submit to who I thought were a good fit for my story.

Then in October, I got the email I had been dreaming of for as long as I can remember. A publisher liked my manuscript and wanted to offer me a book deal. The feeling I experienced when I read that email over and over again was like no other.

I turned 40 in March this year. It was highly unceremonious because of lockdown restrictions. May be that was for the best. But the biggest present is that my debut novel The Missing Husband, a psychological suspense, is being released in May.

And even better, I’ve signed another two-book deal with my publisher and my second novel, The Woman Next Door, is out in the autumn. I’m now working on my third.

I know my mum would be proud. Although she’d probably tell me off for all the swear words but what’s a girl to do?

I hope my story will inspire you to follow your dreams too. We don’t know what the future holds. This past year has taught us that more than ever. But two things I know for sure are that life is short and it’s never too late to try something new. Good luck.”

The Missing Husband, written by Natasha Boydell and published by Bloodhound Books, is available to order on Amazon now: https://geni.us/MissingHusband_BHB

 

My Random Musings

Award-winning writer, blogger, social media consultant and charity campaigner. Social Media Manager for BritMums, the UK's largest parent blogging network Freelance clients include Firefly Communications and Save the Children UK. Works with brands on marketing projects. Examples include Visit Orlando, Give As You Live, Coca-Cola and Kodak. Cambridge Law graduate with many years experience working across three sectors in advice, media relations, events, training and project management. Available for hire at affordable rates.

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