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
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 US– Blog:Jane Risdon WordPress – Goodreads: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