At the end of October, The Great British Menu’s Prue Leith visited Chichester Library to talk about her new memoir Relish: My Life on a Plate. Prue also talked of her passion to write fiction, an ambition that wasn’t fulfilled until she was well into her fifties.
Prue opened by sharing that the main problem for diarists is deciding what to write. You’ve not only got to think about what’s going to interest others (maybe not what you had for breakfast) but also what’s not going to offend your nearest and dearest (let’s say, nothing that you wouldn’t share at the dinner table). Being presented with a megaphone by her son after the release of her memoir was a sure sign to Prue that there is such a thing as too much information.
As well as writing Relish: My Life on a Plate, so far Prue has written five novels and worked as a food writer, journalist, television presenter, radio presenter and teacher. This all stemmed from a career as a cook which Prue kicked off when catering from her London bedsit in the early 1960s. Soon after, Leith’s Restaurant opened. By the mid-seventies she was a food columnist for the Daily Mail and at the age of 29 she had written her first cookbook. Prue’s career flourished; she became a highly successful and respected businesswoman but she did not stop there…
Many writers have talked about the therapeutic nature of putting pen to paper (or fingers to keyboard). While in Chichester, Prue compared the need to write to a disease that needs a cure. She revealed that when you write you feel better and this desire to write is backed up by Prue on her website:
“I’ve always, always wanted to write novels, but did not dare confess the fact, even to my husband. I satisfied the writing bug by writing cookbooks and journalism (and poems which no-one sees) until in my early fifties when I decided to sell my business, stop writing about food, and write that novel.”
Chichester Copywriter’s Katy can relate to this notion of writing to scratch an itch. Katy also writes poetry in her spare time and writes her own marketing copy as well as blog articles and website copy for clients. While it’s not quite the same as writing what you have a burning passion to write, writing for a living quells that thirst for creativity and it’s a great place to start.
At the age of 55, Prue’s first romantic novel, Leaving Patrick, was published by Penguin. The plot for Prue’s fourth novel, Choral Society, centred on three women in their fifties but she was advised by her publisher that this subject area was unlikely to prove popular. Despite the advice, Prue sought out a new publisher and moved to Quercus who snapped up the book which was to become a best-seller.
This just goes to show that no matter when and where you start writing and no matter what your publisher says, there’s always hope to fulfil your creative writing dreams! We’re sure you’ll agree that this is food for thought but will you be taking a Leith out of Prue’s book?