Not the average 9 to 5 working as a writer

By Lauren Sedgley

At the age of seventeen, not a lot of teenagers know what they want to do for the rest of their life. At this age they are constantly being pressured to make decisions; do I go to university, do I get an apprenticeship, what other options are there, if I go to university, what on earth am I going to study. For Callen Martin, his epiphany came just at the right time and he knew what his calling in life was, to be a writer. However, this wasn’t always the dream.

“Before, my initial life goals were to be a vet, then it was a social worker because of my childhood and then I really got into reading, which was my gateway and I didn’t realise but I was subconsciously looking for a character similar to what I grew up in, I wasn’t to see a depiction of that life and that childhood and it wasn’t happening and I was devouring book after book and then I realised that actually I had all the skills and everything to be able to create that and create what I wanted.”

Martin spent the majority of his childhood in foster care and this was his reason in wanting to become a writer.


Callen Martin working on his novel from home

“I want to be a writer because books, literature and reading did so much for me growing up, like so much, that I want to give back and if I can do for one child reading a future work of mine what many authors did for me the it would be brilliant,” Martin explained.

For Martin, he knew he wanted to go down the degree route as he explains how he flounders if there isn’t a routine or structure to his life so he knew that was going to be his only option. Whilst at university he knew that he would have a tutor and would always be receiving feedback on his work and would always be learning and growing whist at the same time being surrounded by like-minded people.

“It can be really isolated but it’s encouraging to be around like-minded people.”

Martin studies at Bath Spa University, he studied his undergraduate degree there and he is now studying for his Masters degree in Writing for Young People. There is also the other element of studying his degree, which is networking. Networking is important because Martin explains how it allows him to meet with agents and other writers which all becomes of use when he is working towards publishing his first novel.

“When it actually comes down to writing, everyday is different and there are days where I won’t write, and that’s not a bad thing because even if I can’t write on that day I should at least spend some time with my novel during that day.

“I do try to set myself a daily goal of no less than 750 words, I used to try and write around 2000 words a day and that was unrealistic, normally when I get to 750 I’m in the swing of it or I’m in the middle of a paragraph and I’ll just carry on but there have been times when I’ve crawled to 750.”

There is so much that goes into writing a novel and there is no right or wrong way to do it. Martin expressed how important it is to understand what time you write best and where you write best. Everyone will have an ideal writing day, he says, but sometimes it just doesn’t work out.

“I first of all, you need to find out if you’re an early bird of night owl, I can’t stress enough how important it is if your writing time is at night how much you are going to struggle if you’re trying to write in the morning, my writing time happens to be 4am till 7:30am, which can be very inconvenient, and that’s not just saying that I can’t write at any other time of the day, that’s just when it comes out naturally.”


Editing individual chapters 

Before you start writing you need to have a brief idea of what you want your novel will be about and it is important to expect that inspiration and ideas can come from anywhere.

“Write ideas down because future you can be inspired by past you, and inspiration can come from your own life too, I outright discounted using any person experiences within my writing, it was too intense and I didn’t want to deal with that but then the MA asked us to write about a childhood memory and I didn’t want to do that, so its important to be open minded and just let it come to you.”

As a writer you have control over everything in your book so it is important not to neglect any idea for one reason or another and when I was talking with Callen Martin he was very clear that anyone could write a novel. You don’t have to be degree educated or to have even excelled in school. If you have an idea and you are able to develop that and get your ideas down on paper and write is so that anyone would be able understand, then what’s not to say you could try and get that published.

By all means it isn’t easy to get a novel published, the publishing can be the hardest part, but the moral of the story is that if it is something you enjoy then what is there to stop you.


An all but ordinary life for Dan and Joe Thompson who spilt their time between school and Speedway

By Lauren Sedgley

For Dan and Joe Thompson life is all but ordinary for these 13 year old twins, half of their time is devoted to school and regular daily doings but then the other half is spent racing speedway bikes with no brakes round an oval track.


Joe (L) and Dan (R) before the Riders Parade

Speedway is amongst one of the most dangerous sports there is; they are 500cc single cylinder engines, they have no brakes and only has one fixed gear, it takes just under 3 seconds to go from 0 to 60 and they run on methanol fuel.

There are also 125cc and 250cc engines that are very common amongst the youth riders as they progress through the sport.

On Dan and Joe’s eighth birthday, they got the opportunity to ride their very first speedway bike at Scunthorpe mini track after first visiting a speedway meeting at five years old when away on a family holiday and could hear the sound of the racing from across the road.

The speedway season runs from March through to October meaning the majority of the time, school and speedway are a juggling act for Dan and Joe but they explained how they manage two of the most important things in their lives.

“I usually do my homework before I go speedway but sometimes we do go to speedway and get back about eleven o’clock and I have forgotten to do some homework so I do it at that time or I do it in the morning at breakfast but its not that hard, just keep going at it and it’s alright,” Joe explained seemingly calm about how he handles it.

Both of these boys have extremely mature heads on their shoulders for young teenage boys and understand the importance of organisation and efficiency and this was evident when I sat down with them to talk school and speedway.

Within their sport, Dan and Joe are starting to become household names and are amongst the most talented in the British Youth both having won the British 125cc Championship title with Joe collecting the trophy in 2015 and Dan in 2016.

In 2016 they also had the opportunity to race against some of the European Youth in Torun, Poland, where Speedway is the national sport and also in Divisov in the Czech Republic.

When asked about their racing overseas you could see the excitement light up their faces just talking about the experience with Dan saying,

“It was awesome, just comparing the English tracks to the abroad tracks and it was just a great experience to race abroad and just compare ourselves to other kids racing.”

“It was very fun and it was nice to make a holiday out of speedway as well, we went and stopped in a really nice hotel and tried all the different foods and to look at the different cultures,” added Joe.

On the weekend of the British Grand Prix in Cardiff this year, they were invited along to the SGP Academy that ran on the Friday, they day before the Grand Prix.

The whole event was described as an amazing experience where they had talks on nutrition, which is an important part for any athlete in any sport, and they also had the opportunity to ride the track that had been built especially for the Grand Prix.

“Riding with a roof over your head and seeing all the stands really high up towards the sky, it was really amazing to ride such a well known track and a track ridden by all the big riders,” Joe described with Dan adding,

“The track was really smooth and awesome to ride and just the whole experience was really fun and interacting with all the big riders and experienced people and being taught on how to improve on stuff when your riding, it was all just really fun.”

The last 12 months have been a huge learning curve after buying some 250cc engines and experiencing a lot of trial and error to finally start reaping the rewards for all their time and hard work.

The mechanical side to speedway is extremely important and how the bike is set up makes up the first half of your performance on the track and Dan and Joe have developed a tremendous amount of knowledge when it comes to setting up their bikes for a race.

Joe described how they’ve learnt a lot of bike skills and a lot of bike maintenance because at the start we didn’t know much because 125s have an external clutch or a carb you have to take apart every time so we’ve learnt how to do all of that ourselves and on a Sunday morning mum and dad will lie in bed and we’ll strip the bikes, cleaning them and everything, sometimes it takes about seven hours to strip the bikes down, clean them and rebuild them ready for the next meeting.

Jenny Thompson, Dan and Joe’s mum explained how much of a good thing it has been that Dan and Joe have learnt so much more regarding the mechanical side of the bikes saying, “now that they’ve taken over the maintanence they can tell us what they want to change or they can set the bikes up exactly how they want and they know exactly how they want to set up in what order they want to put the cluth plates in or how many different types they want in.”

After a strong finish to the 2017 season, the Thompson twins have a long winter ahead of them with preparations already beginning for the 2018 season where they will make the progression to the 500cc engines after recently purchasing two engines.

“We got to the last few rounds of the British Youth and we were absolutely full throttle on the 250s and we just need a little something extra and didn’t really want to spend too much money on the 250s either because we want to go up to the 500s and spend all our money on that instead,” Dan explained.

It seems as though Dan and Joe are doing everything to head in the right direction to make speedway their career and are budding young stars on their way to speedway success.