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Helen Bridgett: my writing journey

Helen Bridgett is a North East writer who’s about to embark on her biggest adventure yet: the launch of her first book.

The Mercury Travel Club was released earlier this month and Helen will be visiting Waterstones in Newcastle soon to talk about it.

But first, she dropped by Book and Brew to tell us all about how the novel came to life. Stick the kettle on, put your feet up, enjoy…

Helen Bridgett
Author Helen Bridgett

Angie Shepherd is the central character in The Mercury Travel Club and she always starts her New Year’s resolutions on her birthday in February. She reasons that no good decision was ever made after a night of partying and prosecco.

She’s probably right – I’ve certainly never stuck to any resolution I’ve made on 1 January. Mind you, they’ve been fairly dull: give up wine, lose weight and never let a carbohydrate touch my lips ever again. No wonder I couldn’t stick to them, I didn’t really want to do any of them.

The one thing I’ve always wanted to do was to write a novel. This secret desire sat quietly in the background whilst every other aspect of daily life raged on noisily but it never went away. So two years ago, I made this my single resolution: I would write a novel and give it to my sister as a Christmas present.

Making a pledge that I’d give it as a gift was significant because a) I had a deadline and b) I had to do my very best to make it an entertaining read.

Being a very methodical person, I worked out that I’d have to write around 600 words per day to have it finished in time. That didn’t sound too onerous but predictably by the end of February, I’d only managed 1,500 words. It looked as if this resolution was going the same way as every other one.

There was a difference this time; I was disappointed in myself. This was something I really wanted to achieve – I mean really wanted. I knew that if I looked back on the year and I hadn’t done it, I’d be truly gutted. ‘You can’t commit to 600 words a day? Come off it girl’, I told myself. I worked freelance and could choose my own hours, so I didn’t even have the office regime to use as an excuse.

I buckled down and forced myself to get on with it. Some days flowed and I wrote far more than I needed but on other days I struggled. I won’t pretend every day was easy. One some mornings I would sit at my laptop and delete everything I’d written the previous day. Your characters start to tell you what they want to do next, how they’re going to behave and if you try to write something that won’t suit them they keep you awake at night. Nevertheless, I kept going and by May I had 35,000 words. 35,000 !!! That’s nearly half way there!

On I ploughed (truly loving the process by now) and as soon as I hit 50,000 words, I realised that this time, I would achieve my goal. Eventually, one evening I reached 81,000 words. I had one scene left to write and I knew exactly what it was. Rather than hurrying it, I stopped writing and saved the finale for the following day.

Even now, I still recall the joy and excitement of knowing that I was about to sit down and finish my debut novel. I’m fizzing with the memory as I write this. Slowly I opened the manuscript and took my time. I thanked my characters for being such great fun and I opened a bottle of bubbly. I’d done it.

If you’d like to hear more about Helen Bridgett and her book, join her on Wednesday 29 March in Waterstones, Newcastle at 7 pm. Find out more here. 

Follow Helen on Twitter or check out her website for more about her writing.

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