My real name is Naomi Doyle. Patches McGee is the name of a doll I had as a child. She wasn’t my favourite doll, nor is there anything in particular to recommend her. She’s grown raggedy with the years; the three, proud loops of thick yellow wool she once called hair are long since gone and she sits around all day exposed in the sensible underwear printed onto her fabric skin – if she ever had outerwear, I don’t remember it.
I imagine Patches McGee was fully dressed however when my writing ambition first emerged. I distinctly remember my eldest sister asking me what I wanted to be when I grew up. I said a poet. She said I wouldn’t be famous until I was dead and would die poor. I broadened my horizons to encompass all writing. She said I would still die impoverished and unknown. I was six years old. By my eighth birthday, my dreams were further crushed when the very attainment of that age meant that I would never be the youngest published author. I actually cried tears of disappointment.
Although I kept writing, it took a back seat while I went about getting an education. I studied hard and earned my law degree only to discover I didn’t want to be lawyer. I traded in my honours degree for a round-the-world ticket and have been travelling on and off ever since, supporting my habit with a patchwork career including make-up artistry, medical publishing, tourism marketing, aviation finance, fashion and politics.
Life was good for a long time, fairytale good, until the day came that I was made redundant and my Prince Charming of 18 years announced he was off to find a Prince Charming all of his own and rode off into the sunset. Then life was bad, worst-nightmare bad. I was lost completely and instinctively took to the only ways I knew of finding myself – I travelled and I wrote then I travelled and I wrote and then I travelled and I wrote some more… in fact, I haven’t stopped since! I also picked up a camera for the first time and slowly but surely, started seeing a new life through its lens.
Through it all I’ve become quite raggedy myself, I’ve lost a fair bit of wool and have spent a considerable time sitting around in sensible underwear having shed all of my outer layers. What remains though is me, Patches McGee – writer, traveller, photographer.