Writing is Impossible!

Writing a play is impossible.

I thought this.

It was too long, too complex

To hold the structure.

Yet one day I began.

I wrote short sketches

5 minutes long

10 minutes long.

Others performed them.

First, they grew like daisies

Then they grew like roses.

The smell was glorious,


I began to write more.

They became knotted wood

And branches,

Saplings swaying to the music.


Writing a book is impossible.

It is too long, too intricate

To hold the structure.

How do they do it?

And then one day I began.



On Friday 9th October, the day before World Mental Health Day, I completed my penultimate draft for the book, ‘Stephen from the Inside Out’!   Here is an extract from the back cover ‘blurb’:

‘From the outside…  Stephen struggled for most of his life with severe mental health issues, endured 25 years inside British psychiatric wards and never felt acceptable in the ‘normal’ world.   From the inside… here was a man with powerful convictions, deep longings, wide interests and an incapacity to be anything other than himself, whatever the cost. This is his story, inside and out; a story of grave injustices, saints and bigots, a faithful dog, a wild woman, a fairy godmother and angels hidden in plain sight. It is also the story of the author, Susie, who started off by wanting to ‘help’ Stephen ‘get better,’ but then found out it was somewhat more complicated than she’d anticipated.

In 2012, this book was a seed in my mind.  Stephen agreed to me writing the book but how to begin? We met up regularly and I recorded our conversations.

In 2014  Kate Clanchy, author and poet, agreed to mentor me. Every now and they she would issue vital advice.

At the beginning: Weave in the history of mental health in this country but only sparsely – keep the story moving forward.

Which I did.

Then: Go on an Arvon Course to complete your first chapter.

Which I did.

Near the end of my first draft: Send it out and get used to rejections. 

Not so easy. But I began.

You might like to apply to a competition run by a publisher.

I applied to the Impress Prize for New Writers.

And got to the last 10. But I’m not going to win.

And then I won.

Won £500 plus the promise to publish.

Now 10 months later, in October 2020, after 14 drafts,  I’ve handed in my draft to a copy editor, to be ritually disembowelled. I’ve spoken to him and trust him to use a clean sharp knife.

I’ll see you on the other side.