When you think of writing a book, you probably don’t get past thinking of seeing it on Amazon or in your local bookshop. But one of my authors has now turned her book’s story into a play – and is traveling around local schools sharing its message.
Emma got in touch with me early last year. She had an idea for a story that was based on her son. She envisioned a poem narrative telling the story of how a boy wasn’t able to fart. (Emma has actually written many stories which she reads to her child, but this one she wanted to ‘get out there’ and share with the world.)
After losing her mum at an early age she was really adamant that she wanted to leave her son a legacy and writing a book seemed the best way to do that. She also liked the story writing process to teach gentle lessons, and as her son gets older – this is more and more important.
When you know how to get your story out of your head (and there were concerns from the start… how, where, can I afford it?) it’s amazing what can happen.
Emma is now taking her book and turning it into a play. She plans to travel to local schools sharing the anti-bullying message – which is simply incredible. Read below to see how Emma got her inspiration, and how she managed to get her story ‘out of her head, and into print.’
Read carefully – there are some golden nuggets within her answers that really can help you with your inspiration.
What’s the title of your book?
Emma: Farty McFartpants.
How long had you wanted to write a book before you put the first word on paper?
Emma: Writing a book was something that I had dabbled for many years, but I had no clear plan or concept of how to approach it. As with many things in life, I assumed that it was something available to other people, it had never occurred to me that it was achievable. But when you set your focus and break things down step by step, it becomes much easier and possible.
What first inspired you to write a book?
Emma: I have a friend who writes articles for certain publications and this gave me the idea that I may have certain anecdotes or information that people may be interested in, so initially, I started to offer some pieces to online parenting sites. I was surprised when they liked and bought my work.
It opened my creative thought processes and I really started to enjoy writing and finding a story in everything. My partner noticed a local short course on writing Children’s literature and he signed me up as a Christmas gift. I loved the space to think and focus every week. My son and I read so many books each day and the idea of writing my own stories for him so that we could read them together was exciting.
What inspired you to actually start the writing?
Emma: Over the first two lessons I quickly started to realise that I needed to write stories that my son would love, that he would find funny, and enjoy reading over and over, but also that helped him to understand certain messages in a gentle way. I then realised that the best way to achieve that was to make him the main character, and so Farty McFartpants was born, it had been his nickname as a toddler. I loved testing the stories out on him each week.
I still wasn’t sure that any of my stories would become a book, but long after the course had finished, I picked the stories back up and started to refine them.
I then had a few personal upheavals, in May 2017, it was the anniversary of my mums passing, she had passed away before my son was born, and it had always saddened me that they had never met, never shared the love that they should have had the chance to. He asked about her all of the time and I told him how wonderful she was, but all I really had to share of her other than what lived in my head, was a few photographs and some jewellery. There was nothing that helped him to understand who she was, how she would have loved him etc.
My mum had been very young when she passed away from Motor Neuron disease, and I have always been very aware, as an older mum that I must cherish the time I have with my son because things can change so quickly. I wanted to leave something living, something that would forever remind him how much I loved him, what he meant to me, something with a personality, which he can one day share with his children. So, despite having very little funds available, I knew that publishing one of these stories was something that I had to do regardless of how many hurdles there were.
So, I started the process of finding an illustrator and the rest is history.
Did you have to find further inspiration throughout your writing journey to keep you motivated? If so, what?
Emma: There were definite ups and downs along the way. I had no clue how I would afford the illustrations and I had no idea how to advise someone on what I wanted or manage that process. I read so much online about what to do next and I became so overwhelmed I almost gave up.
I was also very disheartened by the process of finding a publisher or agent, many do not respond and when they do (usually negative) it really makes you wonder if your story is good enough. There are also lots of people willing to take money from you at every turn. Luckily, I reached out to a group for advice via Facebook and I was put in touch with Alexa. We had an initial chat on the phone, and I knew she could help me. There wasn’t one time where she didn’t offer calming and positive advice and feedback. I am quite sure that had I not met her I would have given up.
It was not a fast process for me because I had to pay for everything (in stages) but I knew this book had to happen one way or another, so I plodded on, and each time Alexa was there at the end of the phone. To see it arrive from the printers was really emotional. Here it was… all my hard work. And it looked just as I hoped
Emma: I have loved the feedback that I have received about my book, especially from online reviewers who have stated that the book has allowed their children to open up about bullying at school, something they had never mentioned at home before.
I have recently started doing workshops with kid theatre companies so that I can turn it into a play and take it into schools, and I have been blown away by the number of children who have shared their bullying experiences with me at the end of the sessions. This allowed me to encourage them to speak with teachers and parents, rather than keeping it to themselves. This is something that I am very proud of. Knowing that my book has helped children who haven’t been able to express their situation and are now talking about it.
I have also been able to explain some of the writing processes to them and it has been fantastic to see their enthusiasm for writing their own stories so that they can one day publish their own book.
I really believe that we will see some of their work in the future. Inspiring them to see what is possible and available to them if they focus on what they want at such a young age is so important. I have felt very blessed to be part of that.
What tips would you have for anyone else inspired but stuck?
As with anything in life we must have absolute certainty and clarity about what it is that we would like to achieve, as they say ‘Where focus goes energy flows’.
Once we have made that clear decision that you will write a book then I would highly recommend connecting with other people who have a similar goal, joining a writing group gives the opportunity to step away from the distractions and helps you focus purely on your writing.
If this isn’t available then I would suggest at least finding someone who can keep you accountable.
Spending money as part of a publishing process can be difficult for some but I would highly recommend investing in speaking with a book coach from the start because it can save you money and a lot of time in the long run by helping you avoid costly mistakes.
If you want to write to make a lot of money then I would suggest reassessing your expectations or at least have a very clear marketing plan in advance, it’s a tough industry crack and marketing your book can almost be a full-time job. If, however, you just have to write a book regardless of whether it is a financial success, then write something that you love and are proud to leave as your legacy.
Farty McFartpants is available to buy here.
Emma has shared some great tips there – I hope you managed to pick them out!
Tomorrow I’m going to be sharing Alison’s story – and you won’t want to miss it. She’s taken one of her books (she’s written 5!) and is turning it into a multi-million-pound training course. Tune in to find out why, and how.
If this has inspired you to get your story ‘out of your head’ but still unclear on where to start, get in touch. Simply email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and let’s see if I can help.