Life begins at 40, or so the saying goes. I really wasn't feeling it - single parenting whilst holding down a totally unfulfilling, stressful job, trying to write a fan blog - if this was life then it was passing me by. Something had to give and after what seemed like the last straw, I left work on a Friday and never went back.
At this point, blogging became an occupation that gave joy back to my life. I can honestly say that it turned out to be my saviour from the big bad world of stress and depression. Writing, researching, editing and publishing stories and opinion pieces gave me a reason not to retreat into a shell and hide every day, but instead to engage with the world and find that it was actually a pretty good place. Of course some difficult months followed but I ultimately came out of them a much happier, more settled person and three years on, I can really say that life does indeed begin at 40 (it just took a while to get going). At this point I should say that writing is not the cure all for depression, but for me it does help to keep the worst at bay.
Somewhere along the line I began to feel that blogging was not all there was out there for me, as much as I loved it and still do. I'm often approached by fans, bloggers and artists curious to know how I have achieved success, so I decided to write it down. What started as a few brief notes grew into a book, How To Create A Successful Fan Blog.
Much like my blog, I had no idea whether anyone would want to read it, let alone buy it, I just put it out there because I enjoyed the challenge of making it happen. Checking the Amazon website on the day of publication, I was astonished to see it on the bestseller list. I looked, looked again, hit refresh, just to double check, then did a little happy dance in the kitchen. The cats thought I had gone mad, especially as it was the middle of the night! A few sleepless hours later saw the book slowly creeping up the bestseller lists, closing at #1 in Hot New Releases charts and #2 in both the UK and USA in its category.
How did this happen? Well, this all started from being a self-confessed Alfie Boe superfan and I first created the ThoughtsofJustAFan blog sitting at my dining table with my primary age son and two rather fat cats for company. Not knowing whether my work would be appreciated, or even read, I was surprised and delighted to find an eager and engaged readership amongst other Alfie fans. Three years on, my blog is now the Official Alfie Boe Fan Blog and I'm frequently approached by other artists from the world of music to review their work which has led to interviews with artists such as John Owen-Jones, Laura Wright, Tom Bailey and Jennifer Warnes. I still have to pinch myself that people want to read my work, let alone are interested enough to buy an ebook!
Who would have thought that a mum could create a bestselling book from a dining-table blog? I'm more surprised than anyone. I guess that what I'm trying to say is that the only thing stopping most of us from fulfilling our dreams is us - I always wanted to write and when I tried, I found that I could do it and do it well. If I can leap into the unknown and take a risk, then anyone can. Much better to have tried than to look back in later life and say "I wish I'd done that". Who knows, you might just succeed.