“I have always loved stories. When I was a child I would make up my own versions of the stories I read or encountered on television. As soon as I understood what being a writer was it was my dream was to become one but thinking that the chances of making it as an author were too small I embarked on a teaching career. I felt that by teaching English, both literature and language, I could at least pass on my passion for stories and words to my students. While this prove to be a very rewarding career in my heart I still longed to write.
Then in 2005 I had the chance to pursue my writing more seriously as we moved to Australia for a year. Not teaching gave me more head space and time. I joined the Queensland Writers Centre did a few workshops with them and started writing on a regular basis. During the course of that year I wrote several short pieces, both fiction and non-fiction, which made it into print. I was even paid for one of them! I also completed a novel, proving to myself that I was capable of writing a full length work of fiction. Although this novel will always remain unpublished as I feel it is too immature to appear in print I knew then that I could do it.
Returning to the UK in 2006 I looked around for opportunities and started by doing a post-graduate certificate in creative writing at Newcastle University. This progressed onto an MA which I passed with a merit in 2010. I wrote more short stories, some of which started to be accepted by magazines and journals, and a second novel, Rock God Complex: The Mickey Hunter Story. This novel, about an aging rock guitarist who has to confront his past, was longlisted in several competitions, giving me real hope that my writing had potential.
My first ‘big break’ was winning the 2011 Writers’ Block Home Tomorrow competition. I was stunned when my name was called at the award ceremony and proud to learn that one judge had even commented that my entry was the stand out winner. This short story, called ‘Home Tomorrow’, was republished in the Stories for Homes anthology now available as a ebook and due out in paperback in September 2013.
Having worked hard on honing my writing craft during my writing career I have now seen numerous short pieces in print and both my short stories and full length fiction placed in national and international competitions. Since 2010 I have been working on my Celtic Colours Trilogy. Part one, Green Dawn at St Enda’s, which tells the story of a young boy who becomes involved in the Dublin Easter Rising of 1916 was commended in several competitions then picked up by Cinnamon Press and was publsihed in March 2016, to coincide with the centenary of the Rising. Alongside this I was awarded full funding to study for my PhD in creative writing at Northumbria University. My project focused on part two of the trilogy, Herself Alone in Orange Rain, which is a follow-up to Green Dawn and was published in Oct 2017. Part three, White Leaves of Peace, was finally released in April 2019, concluding the trilogy with a story that explores the consequences of peace in Northern Ireland.
To my great surprise, Cinnamon (who are a wonderfully supportive independant publisher) agreed to publish the whole trilogy before I had even planned parts two and three. After that I was further surprised when, having completed their excellent mentoring scheme with another novel, one I had written before Green Dawn but held back because of the timing of publishing the trilogy, they said they would publish that too. So Rock God Complex: The Mickey Hunter Story will finally appear in print in autumn 2020, more than ten years after I wrote it.
Having published three novels with a fourth pending and Cinnamon's committment to release two more in 2022 and 2023 (I pitched the ideas for them to Jan and she accepted straight away so now I have to get writing!) I am starting to feel like a proper writer. When people ask what I do I tell them I'm a writer. I don't make a huge amount of money from it but I do work as a writer, or at least a creative writing tutor, on a permenant basis. Looking back I have come a long way down the road towards my childhood dream of becoming a writer. I have ran creative writing groups, taught writing courses and delivered workshops. I've even had two writer in residence posts. More of my work is appearing in print and I am receiving praise from others in the industry. None of this has been easy. What I have achieved has come from hard work, actively seeking out opportunities and pursuing them, and putting a lot of time and energy into my writing. But it does show what can be done if aspiring writers are serious about their work and prepared to put in the effort.
If you are just starting out as a writer but you, like me, long to make it your life, there are two simple steps which, if followed as fully as possible, will ensure that you achieve your potential: 1. write as well as you can and 2. get your work out there! You may want to do some writing courses, join a writers’ circle or get some professional appraisals of your work to help you hone you craft. Then you must take the plunge and start submitting work to suitable publications or organisations and entering it in relevant competitions. Don’t let rejection dishearten you. Believe in your work; if you don’t no one else will. Above all keep trying. A piece rejected by one publication may well be accepted by another (several of mine were accepted on a second or third try). It will, more than likely, take a while before you make inroads but be patient. If you want it enough you can make it happen.
Best of luck with your writing!”
Click here for a link to a Northern Echo news article that includes an interview and video of Tracey encouraging fellow writers to take the plunge at open mic reading events.
Me at a reading event, launching the Cinnamon Press short story competition winners' anthology that I was delighted to have a piece published as a competition runner up 2014
Click here to listen to my interview with Julie Donaldson on Radio Zetland. Scroll through to minute 12 and you will hear me!