Smorgasbord Blog Magazine – Guest Post – I Wish I Knew Then What I Know Now! #Writing by Jane Risdon

I am sure like me, there have been times when you have wondered what difference might have been made to your life, if your younger self had been gifted with the experience and knowledge you have accumulated over the years.

I invited several friends from the writing community to share their thoughts on this subject which I am sure you will enjoy as much as I did.

Today author Jane Risdon reflects on the message she might have offered to her younger self to reassure her that one day, she would be a writer..

I Wish I’d known Then What I Know Now. – Jane Risdon

Writing is something I’ve wanted to do ever since I first read Enid Blyton, Robert Louis Stephenson, and similar authors, but I never imagined I’d actually achieve my goal. I dreamed about it and authored stories which I never shared.

I recall mentioning I wanted to be a war correspondent during a school career evening and being firmly put back in my box by the woman ‘advising’ me on various ‘suitable’ careers for the eldest daughter of parents with six children. ‘You can be a teacher, a nurse, a secretary etc…’ she told me. She made it clear that men were journalists, not women. ‘Besides, you’ll be getting married and having children…’ That really annoyed me then and it does now.

My father was a military man who later worked for the Ministry of Defence. Mother was a dispenser in various pharmacies until she retired. My mother was (is) a person in her own right. As well as being a wife who worked, she was a mother too. When we were overseas she didn’t work, but as soon as we returned to England she went back to her profession. Women could have careers, I knew that.

We lived all over the world, experienced many cultures and peoples, and I wanted to cover their stories, especially during any conflict. That was not to be. My family moved to Germany and there I remained for two years until I managed to apply for a job at the Office of Information (British Government), in London, where I could write press releases and articles. Long story short; I didn’t get the job. I was recommended and approved for the Foreign and Commonwealth Office instead, and I escaped from Germany to an amazing job where my writer’s imagination was inundated with a deluge of material to file away in the hope that one day, when I became a writer, I could possibly use all I learned and experienced.

At that time, I hadn’t a clue what I’d write about if ever given the opportunity. Possibly something about spies like the Krogers — Soviet husband and wife spies, part of the Portland Spy Ring — or the kidnapping of Geoffrey Jackson, Ambassador to Montevideo, as well as the various tit-for-tat expulsions of Soviet diplomats accused of spying in London, and the British diplomats sent home from Moscow in retaliation, whilst I worked in Whitehall — great material, but I’d no idea what I’d do with it, if I ever got to write.

It seemed an unattainable dream whilst I worked as a public servant for many years. Marrying a professional musician, having a son, we mostly lived overseas travelling the world, eventually working in the international music business where we were constantly on the move with recording artists, singers, songwriters, and record producers. Writing was a distant fantasy. When? Which genre? How? I just couldn’t envisage it ever happening. My life had been set on its path and authoring books couldn’t be factored in, I thought.

But life has a strange way of throwing one a curve. Opportunities can and do cross our paths and we have to grab them when we can. We eventually retired from the music business. Time was suddenly my (our) own. What to do with it? Big question. Back in England we downsized, moving to a new home, and during the move we spent time throwing things out. It was a difficult undertaking; what to keep or not. It was emotional at times, going through all our things — our life.

Throughout my life I’ve kept diaries, sometimes very personal jottings, and of course, working in the crazy, unreal world of music, we kept diaries of our work schedules and activities. We had memorabilia, photos, tour schedules, fan letters, posters, etc., from the 1960s to the day we retired. Suddenly, I was inspired. The time had come. All those years I thought I’d wasted, when I’d grieved at the ‘loss’ of a writing career, were not in vain after all.

My diaries held the secret, and once unlocked I found I had the beginnings of one of the first stories and books I wanted to write — have now written. I gave myself permission to use the material, to unlock my (our) life experiences in music and my career working for various government departments, to tell those stories. I’ve since realised I can write anything, not just what was inspired by the diaries.

If only, all those years ago as a teenager and young adult, I’d have known that one day I would be able to write, and that all the years in-between had not been wasted but were leading to this time, now, here, I wouldn’t have felt such an emptiness and loss. I think that had I been given time to write long ago I’m not sure I’d have been able to write anything decent, readable, or interesting to anyone else. I hope I’ve achieved some level of readability, and I can only trust that I am a better writer for having let a lot of water flow under the bridge before putting my efforts into print. How can I know? But I do wish that I had known, then, that one day my dream would come true, and I wish I’d taken more notice of what was going on around me at times, both in public service and in my dealings with the entertainment industry, especially in Hollywood! I never got to be a war correspondent. I no longer grieve over it. Looking at the state of journalism these days, I think I had a narrow escape.

I wish I’d known back then that my older self would be glad I took the path I did, although if there’d been a way to have all my life experiences as a younger me, I may well have written sooner. Hindsight is a wonderful thing, of course…if only!

© Jane Risdon 2022

About Jane Risdon

Jane Risdon is the co-author of ‘Only One Woman,’ with Christina Jones (Headline Accent) and ‘Undercover: Crime Shorts,’ (Plaisted Publishing), as well as having many short stories published in numerous anthologies. She writes for several online and print magazines such as Writing Magazine, Electric Press, and The Writers’ and Readers’ Magazine.

Undercover: Crime Shorts was the February Free Book of the Month on the virtual library and festival site, MYVLF.com, and her live video interview features in their theatre. She is a regular guest on international internet podcasts including UK Crime Book Club (UKCBC), Donnas Interviews Reviews and Giveaways, and on radio shows such as theauthorsshow.com, chatandspinradio.com, and The Brian Hammer Jackson Radio Show.

Undercover: Crime Shorts is being used by Western Kentucky University, Kt. USA, in an Introduction to Literature Class, for second year students from Autumn 2021 for the foreseeable future.

She is the Lead Panellist, March (2022), for an online discussion of The Intersection of Literary Fiction and Women’s Literature at LitCon, an author’s conference out of New York USA.

Jane’s latest 100-word piece of Flash Fiction entitled Payback, was read by her for Showboat TV Equinox Online Festival on 25th September as part of the event’s Spoken word segment.

Before turning her hand to writing Jane worked in the International Music Business alongside her musician husband, working with musicians, singer/songwriters, and record producers. They also facilitated the placement of music in movies and television series. They were based mostly in Los Angeles and Singapore.

Earlier in her career she also worked for the British Ministry of Defence in Germany, the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, London, and the Atomic Energy Research Establishment, Harwell.

Jane is represented by Linda Langton of Langton’s International Literary Agency in New York City, New York USA. You can contact Jane via Linda at

Books by Jane Risdon

One of the reviews for Undercover Crime Shorts

Oscar McCloud4.0 out of 5 stars Cosy Crime with a bite  Reviewed in the United Kingdom on 4 January 2022

The common theme of these short stories is murder, where the victims apparently deserving their fate as the perpetrators justify their actions.

All the main characters in each of the stories have psychopathic tendencies, but the short narration of the events does not allow their characteristics and backgrounds to be developed. An example is the paranoid diplomat who believes he is the victim of a ‘honey trap.’ I, as the reader, felt he was more of a misogynist and opportunist who covered up serial murders.
I liked the premise of the stories, and found them imaginative and entertaining, all with a bite of incredible plotting.

Murder by Christmas was my favourite. The idea of deciding to murder before you can collect an inheritance is a dilemma. What gives the story intrigue is that the deceased, in her will, had decided she wants rid people in her life whom she disliked. Equally interesting is how easily the perpetrators have no remorse and meticulously kill their victims before they start a new life with their new wealth. The ending left me wondering if I could do the same. (Probably not).

I enjoyed this collection of short fiction. Although on the surface a grim subject, each tale has a mischievous tone, with the narration like cosy crime providing a sense of justice in most cases. 

Read the reviews and buy the books: Amazon UK – And: Amazon USBlog:Jane Risdon WordPressGoodreads:Jane Risdon Goodread – Twitter: @Jane_Risdon – Facebook: Jane Risdon – Bookbub: Jane Risdon – WNB Network: Channel 6

 

 

Thanks for dropping in today and it would be great if you could share Jane’s post… Sally

107 thoughts on “Smorgasbord Blog Magazine – Guest Post – I Wish I Knew Then What I Know Now! #Writing by Jane Risdon

  1. Wonderful advice, Jane. Like you, I was a writer from the start but never had the confidence or opportunity to pursue until I hit 40.
    It’s great that you had your mother to reinforce the idea that women could and did have careers.
    Thanks for sharing your experiences! Hugs 💕🙂

    Sally, thanks for sharing these wonderful posts. Hugs 💕🙂

    Liked by 5 people

  2. Ah, aI certainly hope that i can put all my jottings to use one day. I too write a diary… sometimes full of nonsense but maybe /i can use it one day other than just to reflect.
    Another good post in this series.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Sally, thanks so much for inviting me to share things I wish I knew then… live long enough and there are plenty of things to ‘wish’ about. I enjoyed trolling through what passes for my brain these days. Thanks so much; have you written your take on this? Would love to read it. xx

    Like

  4. You’ve had a fascinating life and a dream come true, with many delightful stories to tell, Jane. Bravo. Thanks for sharing your insights with us. Hugs

    Liked by 1 person

    • William, thanks so much. We all have amazing stories to tell, it is a case of tuning in to them, or mostly, just trying to remember them. So much happens in a lifetime, some things take longer to surface than others.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. It’s never too late and it comes to those who wait as they say and what you collected on the way Jane is a wealth of knowledge and experience…Thank you for sharing your journey…I too was raised with the expectation of getting married and having children…:) xx

    Liked by 3 people

  6. It sounds like you had quite an exciting life, Jane – at least from my perspective. :-). In one way or another, experience becomes fodder for the stories we tell, and you have lots of that. Thank goodness for those diaries. I’m so glad you found your way to writing and that your dream finally came true. It just shows, once again, that it’s never too late to grab the opportunity when it arises. Loved the post and getting to know you better too. Thanks Sally.

    Liked by 3 people

  7. I love this Jane. Yes, all those amazing experiences you had could easily give you ideas for stories. I recall lamenting that life got in the way of me becoming a writer. A kind friend said that when the time was right, I would be one. Now I have 9 books published! She was right.

    Liked by 3 people

  8. Hi Sally, what a lovely post by Jane and a beautiful picture too. I am glad she found her way to writing her two books to date, that is a great thing. It is always a little strange to me that people dreamed of being authors as children. When I was a child being an author seemed so unattainable, not for ordinary people like me. I wish sometimes that I’d had some encouragement to write more at a younger age.

    Liked by 4 people

    • You had a lot of other things going on Robbie and perhaps one of the reasons that so many people are in their 40s and older before they get to writing their books is about life experience. Baking for your boys and turning those in to books was a great start that you have built on brilliantly and you have many years ahead of you to keep writing… ♥♥

      Liked by 4 people

    • I was a lonely child, much older than my 5 siblings and my salvation was books, and reading. I think they inspired me to write stories in my head, living in my imagination was normal. Adults were too busy to talk to me and the younger ones had their own little clique, so my imagination was my friend. I used to write short stories and hide them under the floorboards in my room. If they had been found there would have been a Spanish Inquisition! I doubt I would have carried on. I wanted an escape – my head was the only space that was mine and mine alone.

      Liked by 2 people

  9. So interesting that many of us writers initially wanted to be journalists. Writing was born in our blood, and eventually in our middle years we decided to start writing books. Must be our generation! Great share Jane xx

    Liked by 3 people

  10. Thank you, Sally, for offering this incredible series. It was a delight reading Jane’s story. And her photo — beautiful! Thank you, Jane, for the inspiration and wisdom. 💗

    Liked by 3 people

  11. To have experienced life in the Foreign and Commonwealth Office AND in the entertainment industry is pretty amazing in itself and I can see that whilst keeping you too busy to write at the time, the experience (as you say) proved valuable. That photo of you is beautiful and represents the perfect style of hair that remained stubbornly beyond my reach! A fascinating glimpse into your life and some sound advice, too. Many thanks, Sally, for yet another fascinating contribution to the series. xx

    Liked by 2 people

  12. Reblogged this on Jane Risdon and commented:
    The fab Sally Cronin is running a wonderful feature for authors and I have just had my turn at writing my piece for her series, I wish I knew then what I know now… it was fun writing it. Besides mine, there are so many other authors to discover. Take a peep. Thanks Sally, always apprecaited. xx

    Liked by 1 person

  13. Congratulations, Jane, on being featured on Sally’s fab blog. You certainly have had a fascinating and world wind life. I leaned that when you were on my blog which was quite enjoyable. Your life experiences served you well now. You did finally get to write, thank goodness. All the best to you in your future writing. Thank you, Sally, for sharing this post about Jane. Hugs to you both! X

    Liked by 2 people

    • Michael, I agree. The longer we live the hope is we learn from our experiences too. Meanwhile, we have great stores of memories for our writing. Thanks for always sharing, Michael. As ever, always appreciated. xx

      Liked by 1 person

  14. Pingback: Smorgasbord Blog Magazine Weekly Round Up – 13th – 19th June 2022 – Lilies, Top hits 1997, Roberta Flack, Podcast, Poetry, Reviews, New Releases, Health and Humour | Smorgasbord Blog Magazine

  15. Quite a few people shared the dream of becoming writers when they were younger, but it is fascinating to see how they came to it in the end. Thanks to Jane for sharing her fascinating life and the origins of her love for writing, and thanks to you, Sally, for this series.

    Liked by 2 people

  16. Pingback: Smorgasbord Blog Magazine – I Wish I Knew Then What I Know Now! – Guest Round Up – Part One – Claire Fullerton, Noelle Granger, Pete Johnson, Sharon Marchisello, Jane Risdon, Balroop Singh, Pete Springer, Carol Taylor D.Wallace Pea

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