Little did I know walking into Toxteth Library on 9 May, 2017, my life would soon change and I’d make friends to last a lifetime.

From the age of 10, I knew I was a writer.  My school hosted a writing contest calling for essay submissions entitled, "What a Tree Means to Me."  Lo and behold, I won a $25 USD savings bond and had my essay published in our local small town newspaper.  A few years later, I joined the staff of both my junior high and high school newspapers.  
 
Our "Indian Lore" (high school newspaper) staff and chaperones went to the University of Georgia in Athens, Georgia for a conference for student writers.  I was smitten with Athens, Georgia and the University, but I was head over heels in love with The Henry W. Grady School of Journalism and Mass Communication!  Not only did I know what I was born to do; I now knew where I would be trained to fulfil my dreams.

Finally achieving admission to the University of Georgia as a pre-Journalism major, I soon became homesick.  I’d gone from a hometown of 5,000 to a town of 50,000 during term time.  Finding it difficult to make friends and to achieve the same high marks I’d made in school, my self-confidence quickly slipped away.

Bereft, this Daddy's girl rang regularly begging to come home.  Daddy convinced me to stay for a year, and assured me if I was still unhappy, I could return home.  A year went by, and still desperately sad, I returned home.  Totally dejected, I was certain my future writing career was dead and buried.  With no idea what to do next, I took the advice of my older sister’s mother in law, a Registered Nurse.  She assured me that my compassion would serve me well as a nurse.  I enrolled in the nursing programme at a junior college in Rome, Georgia, a town 25 miles from my hometown.
 
Unfortunately, my father died suddenly of a heart attack when he was 52.  The one person who had always supported me was gone.  I was bereft. 
 
My nursing course ended in 1985, and I passed the state registration exam as a Registered Nurse later that summer.  I completed a Bachelor of Science in Nursing in 1989.  After working 10 years in nursing, I decided to go back to UGA to finish my journalism degree. Working 2 twelve hour weekend shifts in nursing, I took university courses during the week until I finally obtained a Bachelor of Arts in Journalism in 1996.
 
Discovering my soulmate in 1994 via an email pen pal group, I moved to England after our marriage in 1997. Moving to England was frightening, but I’d grown up a lot since calling my dad begging to come back home. 
 
In England, I suffered numerous setbacks to writing and returned to nursing.  However, the desire to write still flickered.  Re-ignition finally occurred courtesy of a course called Write to Work.  I applied for the course a day before the deadline, not expecting a reply.  Surprisingly, an acceptance email followed shortly.  Ecstatic, I accepted the invitation and walked into Toxteth Library the morning of 9 May 2017 (one day before my 20th wedding anniversary).  Write to Work has turned that tiny spark into a raging fire.  Once again, I wake during the night with writing ideas.  My mind is constantly scanning the world around me for things to write about. 

A diversity of topics, supportive tutors and a group of writers who have become a second family to me has turned this 12 week writing course into a life-changing experience. During the course, I have had an article published in the Guardian newspaper, and will attend a radio journalism course commencing in September. Our writers’ group will continue meeting even though the course is over. I will now treat setbacks as learning experiences and never stop trying to improve my writing or apologise for any of my work or for my feelings. 
 
My life has changed for the better, and I owe it all to everyone involved in Write to Work. The supportive tutors and the warmth and encouragement of my new family of fellow writers have helped me to regain confidence.  The depth and breadth of the course has opened my eyes to writing opportunities I never even considered. I thank each and every person involved in this spectacular course.  You’re a part of my heart now, and I will never forget any of you.
 
Published in May-July