A chance encounter with turtles led to my first piece of paid writing.
Sitting in a cafe in 2006 I was drawn to a leaflet advertising ‘Turtle Bags’. It was written by a company offering an alternative to the plastic bag. Why ‘turtle’ bags I wondered. Reading on, I discovered that turtles travel to UK waters looking for jellyfish to eat. They spot a discarded, upturned plastic bag floating on the water, think it’s a jellyfish, swallow it and very often suffocate.
I was moved enough to look further into the subject. This then became the motivation for composing my first writing pitch. Pegged to the sad case of the turtles, I emailed my idea on the environmental dangers of discarded plastic bags to a UK women’s weekly magazine. The editor felt it was a feature close to reader’s hearts. She commissioned me to write an article, ‘Kick that bag habit’. It was published a few months later.
Excited by my first paycheck I began to think more about environmental and health concerns ñ very topical by this time. These ideas led to further published articles on food waste, over-consumption of junk food, food labelling and packaging.
My thoughts then moved to myself and my own life. Initially I was doubtful anyone would be interested in my life. I’d spent a year in Aden as a youngster. Could I write about my experience of living through a war there? Yes I could, and did, and got published.
Lots of magazines want real-life stories and we all have them. I wrote about my time working for two Lord Mayors; the challenge of doing a sponsored walk up Ben Nevis in Scotland; about my successful pregnancy after years of infertility. All these stories were successfully published.
There are potential stories everywhere and in everything we do or have done and, it seems, many people just love reading about them.
Abby Williams is a published freelance writer living in the UK. She is currently working hard to get her website up and running.