From left to right: With parents circa 16; signing books at 62; playing harp at circa 30.
Welcome to my blog
I’d like to introduce myself to you, and tell you a little about my writing journey and me.
I am an only child, born to older parents in the village of Birstall, a suburb of the city of Leicester. I had a happy childhood, and grew up in the early 50’s and 60’s, when the ‘teenager’ was really first emerging. A huge fan of the Beatles, at one point, our outside toilet walls, (which wasn’t actually outside, but in an cold, glass-covered passageway off the kitchen) were covered in pictures of John, Paul, George and Ringo, which must have been funny for anyone visiting the amenities.
College and career
I left Leicester in 1970 to go to The Royal Manchester College of Music, where I studied the piano, harp and singing, which was followed by a year at Teacher Training College in London.
Despite attending Music College, becoming a performer was not on my radar. I wanted to teach, which was as well, because I wasn’t a confident performer, but did love meeting people.
I subsequently spend thirty-four years working in Music Education, initially as a classroom teacher, followed by jobs as a peripatetic piano teacher; peripatetic classroom teacher in primary schools; schools music advisory teacher, and latterly as a schools music adviser and OFSTED inspector.
I left education to set up my own photography business in 2008, at the age of 56.
My photography business has been brilliant fun, having the chance to photograph many amazing events and meeting some fascinating people; many of whom I would not normally have met.
Writing at school wasn’t a particular passion, but I did enjoy certain aspects of it. A friend and me used to write stories for episodes of our favourite TV shows. I loved picture books, and owned a beautifully illustrated children’s’ encyclopaedia and spent hours looking at the pictures and creating lives for the people in the drawings; who they were, what they did; where they lived. Also, extremely weirdly, when I was in the bath I would imagine I owned a fish and chip shop. We used to have a bath rack that held the soap, and flannels. The flannels were the different fish I was selling – plaice, cod, haddock etc, and I’d have conversations with my customers. This was, when I was young, I hasten to add! Therefore, although I didn’t think about writing, my imagination was full of stories.
The main criticism I received from the English teachers at secondary school was, that my writing was too concise, and I needed to expand my descriptions. I’m not particularly big on description now either. I get far more enjoyment writing about characters, their conversations and emotions. Sadly when I studied A level English, the passion I had for the subject was ruined by the teacher, who generally made me feel small, which in turn had an impact on my confidence in the subject. Sadly, I didn’t finish the A level course.
As an adult, I would occasionally fantasize about writing my memoirs – although I don’t know why I thought my life would be worthy of such focus.
My writing journey
My first published books, written in the mid 90’s, was a Music Scheme written for primary teachers to teach their classes the statutory music curriculum. Primary teachers are not experts in all subjects, and music is a subject that many of them lack the skills to teach. My co-author, Mary Edwards and I (as Lis Fletcher) had many years of music education experience behind us, and when we were approached by Nelson Publishing to write the scheme, we were excited and also filled with some trepidation. This was our first experience and involvement of publishing and the world that comes with it.
We had deadlines that had to be met, and when we had spent ages working out how to write instructions for teaching a practical activity, we found our words didn’t necessarily make sense to a non- specialist person. There was a huge amount of re-writing. Plus we had to source music, and also write new songs. We wrote three volumes, which at the time seemed to be all consuming, but an amazing experience.
My next publication, in 2014, was a business book, along with a variety of articles in business magazines all related to my photography. However, the writing that gives me the most pride are my last four books: three of them, because they are from my own imagination. The fourth is that memoir that I fantasized about in my early adult life. And ‘no’, I haven’t had a worthy life, but the unlikely love story of my husband, Conrad and I is worth telling.
Writing in 2020
My main reason for writing, apart from the obvious enjoyment I gain, is, I want to leave a legacy. I don’t have children, or grandchildren (with second marriages, one does not negate the other) and I would like to feel that people know I existed. My books might even be found on someone’s shelf long after I’m dead!
This year I am, aged 68 and loving life! I have written and published seven books, written many articles, and some chapters in business anthologies. One of my most important values in life is to have integrity. Therefore I won’t say I can do something, or I am a particular person, until I have actually walked that path. I find it hard to ‘bullshit’! Now I feel I am able to embrace me, the ‘author’ and, this year, me, the ‘writing mentor’ too. Watch this space………
You may have noticed that Lis is not the normal Liz. No, it’s not a typo… and it isn’t because I’m trying to be ostentatious. It’s down to my mother, who obviously did want to be different! My full name is Lisbeth (like the Girl with the Dragon Tattoo in Stieg Larsson’s Trilogy). Where my parents found the name, I’ve no idea, because we have no Scandinavian or Dutch ancestry in our family (as far as I know), which is where the name is derived from. I have spent my life having to correct it, because often people in officialdom want to tell me how to spell my own name, as does predictive text!
Thanks for reading, and I hope to share more stories, and writing ideas over this year.