These days, it seems, everyone wants to be famous. We scoff at the talentless kids who doggedly queue for the chance to gain their 2 minutes of fame on shows like the X-Factor or Britain's Got Talent. And the programme-makers feed our voyeurism by selecting some of the most hopeless to appear on our television screens. We duly jeer or cringe, revelling in their self-delusions. I'm as likely as anyone to laugh at them, but there's a secret bit of me that weeps for them too, that understands why they are there and why they subject themselves to the possibility of humiliation. I know what it is to crave fame.
From my earliest years, I have always wanted to be famous. When I played with my friends we didn't play formal games, we always enacted dramas that I'd invented. I wasn't just the creator, I was also the director and the star, in these play-acting games. And in my head I saw them unfold like a cinema film. We weren't seven year olds running around in the concrete palyground. We were 'Red Indians' and cowboys, handsome princes and beautiful princesses, leather clad motor-bikers and their girlfriends. Even on my own I often had the sense of another eye watching me - as if I was the subject of a documentary film which watched my progress through life. Sad eh?
I might never have started writing down these imaginary scenarios, but when I was ten my teenage sister began to write her own Regency romance, inspired by her love of Georgette Heyer, and it occurred to me that I could do the same. My 'novel' didn't have a title, not that I can now remember, but it was set in the olden-days. The plot revolved around the visit of a group of ladies to a lighthouse. Bad weather trapped them there. My sixteen year old hero, son of the lighthouse keeper, suffered a fall on the rocks. My sixteen year old heroine, one of the visiting ladies, undertook his nursing. At this point, just a few pages in, my imagination ran dry.
Despite scraping through to Grammar school there was no clue in my educational attainments, or lack of them, which suggested I should become a writer. Apart, that is, from continuing to write (though I never finished anything) throughout my secondary school years. Art was the only subject I excelled at. My parents were both artists and though I wouldn't say I was pressured, there was a subtle understanding that art was where my future lay. That was all right, I thought. I would become a famous artist.
I'd stopped writing when real-life began to supplant my fantasies. Adulthood also brought with it the knowledge that craving fame was ridiculous and immature. I could laugh at myself. After all, working as an illustrator in advertising was not a sure-fire path to celebrity. But when I took a career break and had my son, I began to write again. This was the most magical time. It was as if, by giving myself permission to write something 'soppy', the breaks to my imagination had come off . I could fly. Amazingly, I was published really quickly. This gave me a completely distorted view of the world I was joining. Fame had come back on my agenda. I even gained myself a few sentences and a photo in several of my local newspapers. But that was all.
My publisher went bust and the world of publishing changed. I only have two print publications to my name - Just Before Dawn and Desires & Dreams. Finding fame through authorship is yet another unattainable dream. In fact, it would be far easier to get published in the mainstream again if I was already famous! Nothing for it then. Where do I sign up for the X-Factor?