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At The Start of Time

WordShack As A Launch Pad for a Writing Career

By: Sergio Burns

Preview and purchase Sergio's excellent short story collection Dark Ghosts Rising. Thank you for supporting the authors of WordShack Publishing.

On the way into Glasgow I notice the giant purple letters on the black background; the '' ad for the city written on the side of a red brick building. Corporate graffiti, I suppose, front rider for the amazing Glasgow skyline that opens out before you as you travel in on the motorway.

I am on my way to interview Mattia Zoppellaro - a rock music photographer - for Contemporary magazine. An arts-based journal whose management has commissioned me on numerous occasions, liked my work, and have now made me contributing editor with correspondent responsibility for the city of Dundee.

As we hit heavy traffic and slow, I reflect, momentarily, on how I came to this particular point in my life. An immediate and vivid flashback reminds me of a meeting in Kilmarnock, Scotland with Lynda Blankenship and Ben Bernstein, the founders of WordShack and the people who gave me my first big break in writing.

It's a strange moment, inching slowly forward on the fume-filled highway, the winter sun glinting off the mirrored windows of a distant office block, my mind ticking over on those early days of my writing career.

I recall, the launch of my WordShack published book 'Dark Ghosts Rising' and slide into nostalgic memories of the launch night. Ben Bernstein making his speech, the sketch's I had written for the evening, my guest speaker, novelist, writer and politician Michael Russell, my message - winged all the way from America - from Lynda. It was, for me, a dream come true and a moment I will enjoy now and at the end of time. And it all happened because of WordShack.

WordShack kick started my literary career and many highlights can be traced back to that early spark and the unshakeable faith of Lynda and Ben in my ability as a writer.

Since, the publication of 'Dark Ghosts Rising' I have been commissioned to write a second book, this time on the Second World War, worked briefly on the news desk of a local newspaper, been interviewed several times on radio and opened the Scottish Literature section of my local library. In addition I have worked freelance on national newspapers and magazines and build up a portfolio that includes work carried out for newspapers and magazines in the USA, UK and Spain.

Work has been steady and, at last, I am being - for part of the time anyway - the person I really want to be and not the person other people think I should be - if you catch my drift.

To date I have worked with quite a few newspaper and magazine editors, have learned an incredible amount, have still tons to learn and can deliver quality writing to tight and extremely tight deadlines. Now, I am always for hire.

Don't be fooled, it can be and often is very hard work. One night, for example, I received an email from one of my colleagues at Contemporary. It was just before I became contributing editor and they wanted to know if I could interview David Sherry - a performance artist - and have the copy ready before start of business Monday morning - basically a Sunday evening deadline. It was Thursday and all I had was David Sherry's representative's mobile phone number. But I immediately said yes, of course I will, leave it with me. After speaking with his people David called me and we agreed to meet in Glasgow on the Friday. I did the interview, transcribed, selected the quotes and wrote the 1000 word piece for the Monday morning deadline.

It is hard to describe the incredible buzz I feel when someone emails me to carry out some work for them, or my mobile phone rings with an editor offering a commission. Naturally I am very proud of what I have achieved, but my feet are firmly on the ground. I know only too well that without the support of Lynda and Ben and WordShack I would still be waiting around for that all important first break.

I am grateful to them and to WordShack for launching my writing career. I have grown in confidence and never, but never, turn down any writing assignment. It is a can do world out there, they commission me and I always accept without any longer having any doubts about my ability to write whatever they want.

I cannot forget this all started with WordShack and I would recommend them to anyone. It's a great starting point for anyone setting off on that literary journey and I have no hesitation in recommending that you let these people help and support you. Both Lynda and Ben have only one aim and that is to find and nurture new writers and promote fresh literature.

Wherever my writing career now leads I am proud to be associated with Lynda and Ben and WordShack will forever be close to my heart.

I am now sitting in Starbucks on West Nile Street, Glasgow, grabbing lunch before I meet Mattia, my mobile phone rings as I bite into my panini.

"Hello?" I say as I try to chew food.

It is the Mail On Sunday. They want me to travel to Dundee as soon as I can and cover a story about an Iraqi who fought in the Iraq-Iran war and met Saddam Hussein. It is my biggest commission to date, the newspaper sells over 1 million copies every Sunday and this is prestigious work.

"That's no problem" I tell them taking the assignment and we agree words and deadline.

I want to punch the air the way soccer stars do when they score a goal, but I resist, thinking I might look strange to do this in a coffee shop, and simply feel a warm glow inside. I can't wait to interview Mattia and check my watch. This, I tell myself, is where I want to be, this is where I belong.

Thanks WordShack!

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