Tuesday, 28 July 2015

Moral Lessons for Writers Without an Ordnance Survey Map of the Publishing World by S.C. Skillman

The life of a writer, as for any creative person, can be packed with frustration and disappointment. It can seem that we will never reach our destination; the path to our goal is nowhere to be found; we are always longing for a special way through, which is constantly beyond our reach; we find our way cut off by new, previously-unimagined difficulties.

The internet is full of advice for us. Some of this can be very encouraging if it happens to be appropriate to us, and then we might apply it to our lives. A lot of it is probably irrelevant. Because we’re all so different, we can vary in our response to this advice.

But here is my contribution, from my own experience.

My two teenage children and I were walking our neighbour’s dogs at the bottom of our road, where one may access a bridge across the River Avon via a new housing estate.

Just beyond the bridge, walkers reach a lane; on the left it leads down to the Rock Mill; straight ahead is a high bank topped with trees, and to the right one may follow the lane up to re-join the main road from Warwick to Leamington Spa.

I was searching for the footpath which would take us through the woods, parallel to the river, and eventually bring us out onto Milverton Hill, and finally to the Saxon Mill. I already know how to reach the Saxon Mill by walking along a major road, but hoped to find a woodland path instead.

But hard as we looked we couldn’t see the path which would lead us to our destination, so eventually returned home, thwarted.

However a few days later, I approached the same area down the lane which leads from the main road. There ahead of me, clear as anything, was a signpost saying: To Saxon Mill. If we had walked a little bit further on the previous occasion, we would have found the entrance to the footpath, hidden by overhanging greenery. I had only seen the entrance because I approached it from a different direction.

You may think the moral of the tale is to purchase a good ordnance survey map. However, this experience reminded me of two things which I then realised applied to me in my life as a writer too:

1) If you just go a little bit further, you may find what you’re looking for.

2) If you approach the problem from a different angle, you could find a resolution.

Remind yourselves of these two things over and over again in your life as a writer. It is very easy to give up just short of the goal; and even easier to consider a problem insurmountable, because of the particular angle you are taking onto it.


SC Skillman writes thriller/suspense fiction. Her first novel Mystical Circles, psychological suspense, was published by Blue Lily Press, and is available as a paperback and an ebook. Her new novel, A Passionate Spirit, will be published by Matador on 28th November 2015. As a child she was inspired by Enid Blyton, and started writing adventure stories at the age of seven.

She studied English Literature at Lancaster University, and her first permanent job was as a production secretary with the BBC. Later she lived for nearly five years in Australia. She now lives in Warwickshire with her husband David and their two teenage children.

Visit Sheila’s website at

Follow Sheila’s Facebook Page: SC Skillman Author & Blogger

and her author blog at


  1. This reminds me of a saying I heard once, that 'The best place for a picnic is always 50 yards ahead!' It's true - it's worth pushing on to find what might be just around the corner, or taking another angle. I did that yesterday, suddenly thinking, 'What if I took this event from a third of the way through the book, and put it at the beginning?' It seems to have given the whole story a lift. Good post, Sheila.

  2. This is great and simple - written straight into my notebook - thank you for sharing your experience :)