Making the Leap

Sarah VaughanSarah Vaughan tells us about her leap of faith, and how it changed her life.

I am not a physically brave person or fearless, in the least. And yet, three years ago, I took quite a leap.
It was the night of my 40th birthday and, fuelled by Prosecco and an awareness that I wasn’t getting any younger, I stood up infront of a group of friends and declared, “I’m going to write a novel and get it published this year!”
To any published writer – and many aspiring ones – this The Art of Baking Blindmust seem naïve – not least because I’d only written 12,000 words of this novel and hadn’t yet approached an agent. I’d never attended a creative writing course and yet I was buoyed by two things: one, I had an idea I couldn’t shake off and, two, I’d been a journalist for 17 years.
I knew I could write. What I didn’t know was if I could write any more than a 600-word page lead.
If there was a leap in my word length, there was also a leap to be
made by my family. My youngest had just started school and, having earned very little as a freelance, the plan had always been that I would find a more financially reliable job somewhere. But I still had a little redundancy money from The Art of Baking BlindThe Guardian: enough to provide a tiny, battered parachute if I made the leap. It buoyed me up, the knowledge of this support; made me bolder than I’d normally be. I would get a publishing deal within a year.
In the end, it took 13 months and I now realise I was ridiculously lucky. My ignorance of the difficulty of being published – and a quiet self-belief- let me make that jump, away from the known certainties of a feature, and into the unknown world of publishing.
Ironically, in many ways I’m now more cautious: fretting about whether my second and now third novels are good enough; not always writing with the sheer gumption that saw me wrest that first novel into shape. I procrastinate and prevaricate. I know what’s at stake.
Making that leap was uncharacteristic and yet it changed my life. I’m grateful for it every single day. This leap year,
I’m going to try to recapture that exuberance – or remember it, at least.

Sarah Vaughan is the author of two novels: The Art of Baking Blind and The Farm at the Edge of the World.



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