Ever since I was knee-high to a grasshopper I’ve loved writing. I wrote a science-fiction story that filled an entire school exercise book as my final term project before I left Primary School when I was 10 years old.
English Literature and English Language were my favourite and best subjects at High School. I knew that whatever I ended up doing in the future, being creative through writing needed to be in the mix somewhere.
In the mid-1980s I started writing a regular column (about text adventure games) and reviewing software on the BBC 2 CEEFAX service, as part of their computing section called NEXT. This was all part of a concerted effort to get my writing published.
I applied for – and failed to get – writing posts at a couple of computer game magazines, but as way of compensation I did get a few software reviews published instead.
I then got a lucky break in 1988 and ended up working in the computer games industry for a software publisher. That lead to my next published work, which was a novella that was included in the packaging for a game called Verminator. I volunteered to write the story that set the game up.
Writing the novella was limited in that the subject and main characters were already in place, and the story had to end at the point that the game began. However, within those confines I could do whatever I liked – subject to editorial decisions – and so I spent every evening of the next few weeks writing ‘Readers of the Lost Bark’.
As it was my first proper attempt at plotting and writing a novella, I was expecting some revisions would need to be made. However, the story I wrote was approved and eventually published – unaltered – in 1990.
The software industry was rapidly changing in the early 1990s, and it became quite turbulent. After a few years as a Project Manager where I wrote a few manuals for games I was managing, I went freelance and ended up writing thirty manuals covering a huge range of genres, from cute platform games to full-blown WWII flight simulators and everything in between.
To develop my creative writing further, I took the plunge in the early 1990s and began a correspondence writing course with David & Charles. I did learn one lesson quite early on in the course. If I was to use my own experiences in my writing, then I needed to have bit more experience of life first. I did intend to return and complete the course after what I planned was going to be a brief hiatus, but in the end I was far too busy with my freelance work to put the required time and effort into the course, and I let it lapse. I did continue writing though, doing unpaid articles and reviews for a couple of amateur fanzine publications about computer games.
A career change in the mid 90s lead me into Higher Education IT support and IT training. The role still required a large amount of writing in the form or user guides and training materials, but it seemed that I’d found a compromise that would allow me to continue writing in some form, even if it wasn’t as creative as I liked.
However, by the end of the 1990s I was hankering to get back to writing that wasn’t training related. So, I decided to learn a new skill and create a web site all about my experiences in the games industry. I learned programming in PHP, some basic MySQL database queries and I was off and running. The Bird Sanctuary was launched in May 2002 and survives to this day (although now it is a robust and highly functional WordPress site).
A second attempt to engage in a Creative Writing course (this time through the Writers Bureau) was started a year or so earlier, but full-time employment, the web site, impending nuptials and starting a family meant that – like the course I started a decade earlier – it ultimately proved fruitless. However, my early assignments came back with encouraging marks and comments which made me think that someday I would return to it.
I did find another avenue for writing, and this time it actually paid as well! A new magazine was launched that retrospectively explored the games industry back to its inception in the early 1980s. My web site and my past experience – and the fact that I was no longer working in that sector – put me in a great position to write articles for the magazine. My first was published in 2004 and – to date – I’ve written twenty articles, with the last published in late 2012.
I took a brief sojourn into sports journalism in 2014, as one of my other loves in life is football. A new start-up web site was asking for articles and match reviews on professional football league clubs, so I volunteered and wrote a handful of articles before the editors pulled the plug on the site. Back in the mid-to-late 1990s I had written match reports for a football supporters fan forum so it was nice to go back to that arena, albeit briefly.
I still love to write to this day, and the urge to return to creative writing and pen a novel is still in me, hence this web site. The idea is to showcase articles, stories and other types of writing I’ve created over the past 30 years.
I’ll put up examples of previous work and new exercises as I complete them. There is a thriving community of writers out there, encouraging others to take the plunge. I’m hoping to engage with as many of you as I can, and maybe encourage others to do likewise in return!
Finally, if you want to get in touch, please feel free to reply using the Comments box below.