Writing books

07/11/2019

To write is to learn more about oneself. It gives you a better understanding about life's mysteries and the situations that we have been through. By writing, one improves constantly and becomes a better writer - improvement never stops which is highly valuable. By the time we are older, we have a long life to look back upon and writing helps us "to make sense of things" as this woman writer says.


Name: Jude Hayland

Age: 60 plus

Occupation: Writer, Teacher, Tutor

Family: One adult son

Lives in: Winchester, England, and Crete, Greece


You are a writer and have done a lot of freelance writing over the years. The publications were commercial short fiction, but three years ago you published your first novel. Later this month the second one will be out on the market. What made you start writing novels?

I had always wanted to write longer fiction. However, I was making some money by writing commercial short fiction for women's magazines, all through my 20 and 30s which was supplementing my full time job as a teacher. Financially, I could not afford to give up either of these sources of income to focus on writing a full length novel.

When I was 39, I was placed 4th in the Bridport Short Story competition - and in 2nd place was the then unknown Kate Atkinson and the equally unknown (at the time) Helen Dunmore was placed 5th. The judge was Margaret Drabble who said some very complimentary things about my writing. This encouraged me to think I could become a novelist.

However, a year later I was married and had a young son and was the sole breadwinner for our little family. Again, the pressure of earning a living and running a household etc was difficult to combine with writing a full length novel.

In 2002, I started a Masters Degree in Creative Writing. This, finally, gave me "the permission" to take writing seriously and not just to think of doing it for money, as I did with the commercial short stories. It was slow progress as by now I was divorced and still teaching full time and looking after my son - but eventually I graduated with distinction and began to think of completing a novel.

What does the writing mean to you and has it changed with age?

Writing is part of who I am. My identity, as it were. When I am writing I feel really me - in fact, the two elements of my life that are essential to me as a person are being a mother and being a writer. As I grow older, writing gives me a viewpoint and wider perspective on the past - writing allows me to reflect with greater understanding on the events of the past and their significance and impact. We grow into people conditioned by our pasts in so many ways.

From where do you find inspiration? You live in England, but also have a home in Greece, a dream for many writers. It sounds like you have great places for ideas to your stories. 

Inspiration is all around - in memory, certainly - since I set my novels in the recent past. It is also rooted in observation - I see a stranger and something about them imbeds itself and becomes a character. I am so very lucky to share a family house in Crete with other members of my family - I have always loved Crete, with holidays spent there over many years.

In 2011, we bought our house and it is idyllic - a wonderful place to write and retreat to - and it certainly played a major role in my novel, "Counting The Ways", which is partly set on a fictitious Greek island. I am now trying to learn Modern Greek which is very difficult! 

You also have writing classes. It seems like many women fulfil their dream of writing even if they are not that young any longer. Would you say that the interest has increased by middle aged women and older?

Writing is a means of trying to understand, to make sense of things. It is, therefore, a wonderful thing for the older woman to do - to reflect on emotions, decisions, events that may have seemed bewildering when encountered - but writing about them gives them shape and form and therefore, possibly, greater coherence and meaning. Whether these emotions are explored through fictitious characters or through life writing - it doesn't really matter. It is simply good to give them legitimacy and significance through writing of them. 

Learn more about Jude Hayland on her web page: www.judehayland.co.uk Her second book is called The legacy of Mr Jarvis. 

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