Tag Archives: Julie Newman

Julie Newman: My who, where,when, what, why and how of writing

Last week, I wrote about my writing life using those trusty writing prompts – who, where, when, what, how and why. I invited readers to send me their own versions, and was delighted to receive this guest post from Julie Newman. Enjoy!

Me in London Sept 2016
Julie Newman

Who?

I have been writing seriously for 10 years since taking my first course ‘Finding Your Voice’ with Jenny Alexander in Cornwall. I had newly retired and wanted a new project, hoping one day to write my memoir; although at the time this was a distant dream. This course also gave me the confidence I needed to explore other forms of writing and I’ve since had nine articles published with Evergreen and This England magazines. Other writing courses followed, one of which was in conjunction with the Caradon Hill Area Heritage Project. I had a historical short story published in each anthology, ‘Mining for Words’ and ‘Write to Remember’.

Where?

At home in my study mostly. I also take a notebook with me wherever I go, for when inspiration strikes.

When?

Whenever I feel like it. I have no set times.

What?

I have just finished rewriting and editing my debut novel. The seed for this was sown one evening during the first writing course I took with Jenny. ‘Where There’s a Will’ is a playful romp through a month in Jess Harvey’s life, a 29 year-old woman with a strapped-for-cash lifestyle who thinks she’s found her Prince Charming in lawyer Giles Morgan. I hope to publish this in the next few weeks. Last September I finally realised my dream and proudly published my memoir ‘No One Comes Close’ which had been twenty years in the making, first in longhand taken from my old diaries and subsequently transcribed into Word and reformatted.

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I am now surrounded by books on the 1640s (English Civil War) with a view to writing a historical novel set in the Fens.

Why?

Again, I initially wanted to explore the creative writing process with a view to publishing my memoir one day. But I have got so engrossed in every aspect of writing that now it occupies most of my time!

How?

I took numerous writing courses whilst living in Cornwall and I belonged to four writers’ groups – one in particular I found extremely helpful, not only with feedback on my own work, but I learned a lot through the process of critiquing other members’ work. Since moving to Norfolk and struggling to find writers’ groups in my area, I have recently found and made friends with three other local authors which is great. We often meet up for coffee and chat about our progress. I also belong to various writers’ groups on social media which I find very stimulating.

I’m delighted to see that Julie is free-ranging with her writing too! 

If you’ve enjoyed Julie’s article, and would like to share your own responses to the writers’ old friends, who, where, when, what, why and how, please email them to me author@jennyalexander.co.uk 

ps The header comes from Julie’s guest post about journalling – you can read it here.

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Diaries and the joy of remembering

This week, I’m delighted to welcome Julie Newman in the House of Dreams to talk about her diaries, as part of my occasional series of guest posts about personal writing. Julie has written a number of memoirs and nostalgia pieces for magazines including This England and Evergreen, and her diaries have proven to be a really useful resource.

I first met Julie in 2008 when she enrolled on my course, Finding Your Voice. She is currently working on an account of all the houses she has lived in. She still keeps a daily diary and attends various writing courses. She says creative writing has become something of an obsession!

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Julie Newman

I discovered my love of writing at secondary school, writing comic-strip stories for my friends to read in break-time. Then, as a teenager, I began to keep a diary. Now I have a cupboard full stretching across thirty years. 

My first little diary had a tartan cover. The year was 1966. One of the girls at work kept one and I decided it would be a good idea, mainly to record dates with boyfriends and different events.

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‘He’s lovely!’

This extended to writing about my feelings/teenage angst. One boyfriend in particular made a huge impression on me, so much so that he is the subject of my memoir ‘No One Comes Close’.

When we met up again it was 1987, twenty years after we had parted. I sent him a 40th birthday card, not knowing where he was living, but it found its way to him in Australia. I was unhappily married at the time. We met secretly in Trafalgar Square, while he was visiting his family. After two more meetings, I was overjoyed when he decided to come back to the UK and make his home here, with me. This was the catalyst for my divorce.

My diary-writing had lapsed in the intervening years but started again in earnest when my life took this unexpected turn. This time I recorded all my feelings, hoping to find answers as to why our relationship did not make it past the first post. He couldn’t find work and went back to Australia but we kept in touch.

I later remarried but never forgot him. I instinctively knew when he was visiting – a kind of spiritual pull – and would phone his mum, hoping to speak to him, which I managed to do on a number of occasions. This continued until his death in 2008.

I still have my little tartan diary. Last September was the 50th anniversary of our first meeting; I carefully thumbed through the pages, now spotted brown with age, and remembered all the times we met in London as if it were yesterday.

If you have enjoyed Julie’s contribution, please leave a comment.

If you would like to contribute yourself, email me author@jennyalexander.co.uk with about 600 words about your personal writing and a couple of photos.

I’ve got some cracking guest posts lined up for you already – I’m loving this series!