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A student…and a novelist….
18 Aug 2015
by Rhea Alton

James Owen has joined us on work experience this week. He is a student at New College Telford but works on more than just assignments…..here he tells us more:

Being a student and being a novelist are more similar than one might first assume.
Both require a large amount of time and effort on your part and both have someone breathing down your neck, waiting for your next piece of work to be handed in.
For me, my decision to write had one major obstacle to overcome as well as being twelve and starting my GCSEs.
I’m not a reader, I never had been. Normally I can only get past the first page of a book, preferring to sit back and enjoy the TV adaptation instead, despite my father’s best efforts to persuade me otherwise. So why a writer?
The question everyone asks…..why do you want to be a novelist if you don’t like reading? Isn’t that like being a film director but don’t watch films?
What I have found more than anything is that my writing actually appeals to people who don’t like to read.
And in a world where more and more people are turning to TV and film for their entertainment and are less likely to pick up a book, that’s a good place to stand.
Now, I won’t claim to be a published author, as I’m not at the time of writing this anyway, but after showing off my work at school events for years it is clear to me that I am on to something. Maybe the way to take literature further into this digital age of media, I surely hope so.
The reason why I chose to write is simple, like most children I had a surge of creativity which my imagination took to, thankfully I had a pen in my hand and was able to capture it.
The fact that I was never much of a reader did seriously affect my ability to string together a compelling written experience in the first couple of years which led to many poor pieces of work.
But, as with everything, I started to piece together the aspects of each attempt that worked and with a lot of support from my parents, I managed to finish my first book when I 15 in the midst of the first GCSE exams. Maybe not the best of times to be writing fiction but I was determined to finish.
That same year I posted it on Facebook chapter by chapter and it became a hit across all ages of my secondary school and even followed me to college.
I finished the sequel just after my 17th birthday, but then came a major setback. Unfortunately I fell in love with the world I had created and the characters that inhabited it, and by the time I had finished the already unplanned sequel to it there were at least 40 more books planned around them. Where I found the time to do so despite having both GCSE’s and A Levels to take care of, is still unbeknownst to me. But this barrage of extended universe left most of that original book looking like a confused and lost pile of scribbles on paper.
Thus the focus of my time as of late has been attempting to rework the story, so that it fits with its direct sequel and its new found extended brethren without losing any of the magic from its original form.
The experience I have gained along the way is phenomenal, excluding the habit of staying long into the night with an I-pad pressed to my face furiously typing away only to hold backspace the following morning. Writing a book has taught me how to look at my own work objectively and to have the persistence to see to see a long project through even when it seems like a waste of time, (deleting an entire chapter that took a month to write is never fun). But it also gave me an outlet for my creativity. I can’t art for starters. I can just about pencil sketch something with tracing paper, colour is a no go. As for music, well I could just about pass music class and somehow ended up in a choir but it just wasn’t for me.
So whilst my friends would huddle around making noise or weird sketches, I just sat at the end and lost myself in my own world. Which frankly, I preferred to school life.