How do you take the thing you most love and use it to do good?

I love to write

I always have, ever since early childhood. It’s my hobby, my love, my purpose. It’s never been my career because there have been bills to pay and a family to support – you know how it goes – and I never quite had the courage to quit my job and starve in a garret for the sake of my art. It didn’t stop me writing though – and this was no idle fancy. I wrote for real. By 2004 I’d written my first novel and was looking for an agent with a view to getting published.

Everything changed

Then, ten years ago, I was diagnosed with Breast Cancer, as so many people are. It was frightening and bewildering and pretty much the worst birthday present I’ve ever had (believe me, those gaudy socks just pale into insignificance by comparison!).

In a strange way, however, Breast Cancer also had a profoundly positive impact on my life. It told me life was too short to hang about waiting for miracles. I stopped hunting and hoping and dreaming of the infinitesimally small chance of a mainstream publisher showing interest in my books and decided to publish my books myself. I used the first three months of my treatment to self-publish my first novel and, having done that, went on to write my second. Breast Cancer changed everything – how I thought about my writing, how I shared my work with others, how I viewed my life and my future… Everything.

8808 hours

This year I hit that amazing milestone of ten years since diagnosis. It’s a bit of an arbitrary number, of course.  Why ten? Why not eleven, or nine? And why is 20th January more significant than 19th or 21st (except, of course, that the one in the middle happens to be my birthday). It’s the law of nice round numbers, I suppose. That’s the point at which clinicians measure survival so that’s the number that means so much to any cancer survivor. But I digress…

For me, I knew I wanted to do something significant to celebrate my continued good health. The ten years between 2006 and 2016 is 8808 hours (and an 8 is a bit like a pair of breasts if you put your head to one side and squint a bit), so that was the number I settled on. I’ve set myself the target of raising £8808 for Breast Cancer Now. Can I do it? Well, I plan to give it my best shot.

In thinking of ways to raise funds, I considered the ‘usual suspects’ – walking and running, cakes and coffee, raffles and tombolas – all of which I’ll probably do but I wanted to do something that was really ME.

That’s when it struck me. I could WRITE to raise money. On a few occasions, I have written a story for friend’s children, to amuse them and for a bit of fun. So why not do the same for a donation? That’s got to be an attractive way for people to sponsor me, hasn’t it?

Bespoke books for children

So that’s what I’m doing. For a minimum donation of £75, I will write a completely bespoke story based on the ingredients given to me by the donor. I will get it illustrated and then turn it into a little hardback book. Perfect for bedtime reading with young children! I’ve got a couple of amazing illustrators to help me and I can also sell additional copies of the book on my website to raise further funds. I’ve completed two of these little books now and they go down really well. So now I’m on the hunt for more commissions. To find out more take a look at the page on my website which explains how to contact me.

After all, ten years is something pretty special and I want to use my writing to make sure many, many more people also get to celebrate this most precious of anniversaries.

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