But there were always two drawbacks. First, I was limited to a fairly standard feature length of 1,500 words or less, which isn't very long when you're writing about something you find fascinating. And second, it's hard work trawling your ideas around magazine editors to find a buyer, especially when you've got one you consider brilliant and nobody's interested!
So when I opened my inbox one day and saw an email asking if I would be interested in writing a book based on First World War letters, I couldn't believe my luck. It came from the former editor of a magazine I had contributed to in the past who was kind enough to remember me when she became a commissioning editor at the publishers Pen and Sword. The sort of book she had in mind would tell the human story of the war using the letters of servicemen - would I consider it? I jumped at the chance.
Some basic research showed me there was a wealth of documents I could use, and to test the water further I wrote a letter to my local paper, the Bristol Evening Post, asking if readers could help. There was a marvellous response and I received some really fascinating (and moving) stories which will be the subject of a future post.
My deadline is January 31st, 2014, which leaves me around 18 months to research and write the book. You'll be able to follow my progress on this blog. First though, I've gone into organisational overdrive to ensure that when my letter-collecting begins everything is filed in an orderly fashion to make writing my first book a pleasure.