Lynda Calder Shares Her Writing Journey

October 16th, 2020

When I was little, I was like most little girls; I had lots of Barbie dolls. My Barbies lived exciting, adventurous and complex lives. When I went to school I loved to write stories. Even in Kindergarten I was using multiple pages when many of my friends were writing a single page with two or three sentences. I even wrote a couple of “movies” and “filmed” them using a long paper roll that slid through a cardboard box movie theatre with single panels drawn comic-style to a recording on a cassette tape that I had my brother help me voice.

Moving to high school, while I didn’t really like studying English, I loved creative writing. For my High School Certificate I purposely chose the simpler English course that allowed for lots of creative writing.

After school I used to write what would be called fan fiction for TV shows I enjoyed, but it wasn’t for anyone else’s eyes or enjoyment except mine. My father once asked if he could read something I’d written and I refused. At this point he challenged me to write something I would be happy for others to read.

I spent a whole month contemplating what this could be because it had to be original and not based on anything already out there. And then I spent another month writing the first draft of 'The Enigma Diaries: Hidden History'. It was then that I realised the story I wanted to tell was bigger than one book.

Ideas and concepts started to come together for books two and three (and a fourth book, but I eventually incorporated this into book three).

I wrote and rewrote book one and then wondered if it was good enough to send to a publisher. I dipped my toe into the writing world and searched out a manuscript assessment. After a couple of rounds, the assessor said the manuscript was ready to send to a publisher. It was returned with a “no thanks”. I tried a couple more times with other publishers but still received the same rejections (although, I believe one publisher almost took it). I realised I needed to know more about writing a better story.

I had joined the NSW Writers’ Centre and paid for a Mentorship. They graciously linked me with the amazing children’s writer, Susanne Gervay. Susanne was so gracious but totally brutal and I learned some hard lessons: “show don’t tell”, cut cut cut, no motherhood statements and so on. Poor Susanne. I don’t know how many times she said, “You are going to hate me.” I felt like crying because almost half the manuscript had red pen through it but everything she said was the truth and so helpful. She made me a better writer, for which I am eternally grateful. By the way, I never hated her – in fact, I love her to bits for taking the time to mentor this completely unknown, overenthusiastic new writer and the way she still loves me. She launched both books one and two!

More editing, more submissions, more rejections. What to do? I kept writing, because I had at least one friend who LOVED the story and she wanted to know how it ended.

I had sent the earlier manuscripts out too early. When I go back and read what I sent out, I shudder. Yet, because this story was still running around my head, still being edited and rewritten, I couldn’t move on to writing anything else. Thus, I decided to bite the bullet and seek out Little Steps Publishing who helped me make 'The Enigma Diaries' a reality. Now, three books later, the trilogy is complete and everyone can find out what has been in my head for over 20 years!

The final instalment of 'The Enigma Diaries' is available now!
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