Hi Folks, I've just embarked on my journey to discover my literary side, and am looking for some thoughts on where I should go from here. First a little background. I'm a 43 year old male from Queensland, Australia. I have an IT Degree and currently work as a project manager. My family have recent had a tree change from the big city to a rural setting, and I'm trying to get more joy and less stress out of life, as after years of making money and being miserable, we've come to realise it's the quality of life that's important, not the quantity. I've wanted to write a Novel ever since high school, but never considered myself to have the potential. Not from lack of ideas (my dreams alone could fill a thousand short stories - if I could remember them all that is) or skill (I'm not an English genius, but my grades at school and university were above avergae), but probably more from being able to dedicate the time & effort to complete the job. So, now that I'm looking for a more fulfilling life, I'm determined I'm going to make time to discover if I do have a spark of literary genius inside me. That's where I'm at now. I've decided I'm going to give it a shot, and am wondering where I should go next. First of all, I see three streams to follow to enlighten myself :- 1. Take the Nike approach (i.e. just do it, write and see what happens) 2. Self Education - Buy some books on creative writing/internet research and see how I go 3. Formal Education - undertake some form of study The pro's & con's I see for each option are :- 1. Pro: Cheap, immediate, mandatory Con: Hard to improve 2. Pro: Relative cheap, expands my understanding of the craft Con: Time consuming finding good information, takes away from #1, trouble knowing what is good and what is bad information 3. Pro: Formal training from supposed experts Con: Expensive, knowing what the best level of training is, is difficult, can be time consuming So I'm wondering what everyone thinks might be a good approach to take. I know #1 should be done regardless, but the volume will be affected by #'s 2 & 3. I think I could do with some expansion of my volcabulary and sentence construction, which goes back to the basics of how to write well and expressively. I think I could pick up the knowledge of novel writing (i.e. plot, character development etc) via self education, but I miss the feedback corrections that a formal instructor provides. I know there are Critique groups out there, but for someone who hasn't done any creative writing at all, is this good enough to help me improve my writing from whatever level it is currently at (I'm hoping at least mediocre, and not starting at bad) to being able to produce good, readable, enthralling stories? I guess my focus is on writing Fantasy stories, but I'd like to explore a wide range of aspects of Fiction. I'm also interested in Mystery, Sci-Fi, and anything that challenges the readers thoughs. I'd love to write some "Twilight Zone" type stories, as the ability they have to provide entertaining stories with insightful and surprising endings has always intrigued me. I hope this brief introduction gives you an idea where I'm at and what I'm trying to do. Any advice on how to turn a newbie wannabe writer into an entertaining and educated author would be greatly appreciated. Thanks. Russell.