I try very hard not to dwell on past mistakes, preferring to focus on the present and my resolve to do better. However, one thing I have always regretted is not taking time out after leaving full time education – where I was completely sheltered from the realities of life – to gain more experience and simply enjoy being young before rushing headlong into the very different demands of a career, relationships and the inevitable responsibilities that come with both.
Although I definitely do not regret the path I chose in life, had I taken that break and maybe travelled more, I would have hopefully been more mature – and better prepared – to deal with the unexpected challenges that were ultimately thrown at me, instead of having to stumble my way through it on a daily basis, without the luxury of time – or worldly experience – to do a better job.
Despite this, I managed to have a successful career and a very happy marriage… but I still regret not taking that gap year!
2. Please explain more what you do
I had a long career as a graphic designer, mainly working for a magazine publisher in London. I was primarily responsible for designing and producing the company’s weekly news magazine for the fresh produce industry, but I was also responsible for other publishing projects, including involvement with the PR and marketing department. In this capacity I designed exhibition stands and took care of clients’ marketing needs, such as brochures and other printed matter. From time to time I even wrote the odd press release.
These activities meant that I worked extremely closely with journalists – proof reading their copy and occasionally writing captions and headlines. I was already an avid reader and had enjoyed writing essays at school, so being exposed to this environment helped to hone my skills as a writer.
Eventually, when I retired and found myself with time to spare, I decided to put my writing skills to good use and set about writing my first novel, ‘Truth & Revenge’. I had begun to write the story 20 years previously, but due to the demands on my time, I was unable to give it the full attention it needed. Therefore, it remained in its embryonic state until I retired four years ago.
Since self-publishing my novel in 2013, I was lucky enough to be nominated as a finalist in the 2014 Wishing Shelf Independent Book Award, something of which I am immensely proud – even though I did not win. I have now completed a second novel, a psychological thriller called ‘Unreliable Testimony’ – for which I am currently seeking a literary agent.
I have also begun a third novel – another psychological thriller.
3. How can people get in contact with you?
I can be contacted through:
I also have a website: sheilarawlings.com
4. What is your biggest life lesson?
Life is short, so you need to treasure the people you love and care for while you still have them. Make the most of every day and try to help others along the way. Life can be cruel, so you need to compensate for that.