‘How did you start writing?‘
It’s a pretty standard question when you’ve just written your magnum opus, patted it on the back and sent it out to make its way in the world.
You may be quite justified in replying, ‘At school.‘ but let’s face it that may come across as a bit trite and the request for the information into the reason why you have behaved in such an obviously crazy manner is usually genuinely asked.
And so, when the subject is raised, I normally bite my tongue and answer, ‘Oh I’ve always written,‘ as if that explains everything.
The truth, as it is so often, can be quite painful.
I have genuinely ‘always written.‘
But – and here’s the rub – not seriously.
Not with a goal of being a published ‘author.‘
Surely I could never aspire to be anyone so grand.
I’d written rhymes about work colleagues for a laugh. Indeed, so amusing were these ditties that I was once banned from the works canteen – for life. Something to do with slicing the gravy as I recall.
I scribbled a few short stories, entered them for competitions convinced that the arrival of the winners acknowledgement would be only a matter of time and, once that time had expired, railed against the judges for their obvious lack of taste.
So yes, I’d always written.
And I’d always wished that I could write without other things getting in the way, the mundane day to day chores, the job, the bare necessities of life – if I may nick the lyric of a song.
Until one day those bare necessities turned around and gave me a kick.
Not subtly, but a swift hard kick right where it hurts.
My wife of thirty four years died.
She collapsed on Christmas Day and by Boxing Day her brief visit to this mortal coil was over.
Two weeks later my father lost his battle with cancer and joined her.
That’s a good way to put it.
Not entirely accurate, but as good as any to sum up something that cannot adequately be described.
And sometimes, once life has given you that kick it considers itself to be the gift that just likes to keep on giving.
Eight months later I had a heart attack.
And a quadruple bypass.
And a collapsed lung.
And an epiphany.
Here I am at fifty eight, what am I meant to do with my life?
I stopped work.
Eight months later my first book was published.
O.k. self published if you want to be precise, not traditionally so, but let’s not get precious about that trifling difference. I had just had a lesson that hanging around for an agent, a publisher, or any sort of opportunity was not a luxury I might allow myself to take. Time is after all linear, we are not allowed to get off for a coffee and a quick puff on a Camel, however politically incorrect that may be.
‘DOGNAPPED!’ is a children’s book. It’s in the final of The People’s Book Prize 2017 here in the U.K. You will vote for it come May won’t you? Thanks.
It’s about my dog Misty and her mates, cast adrift on a canal boat with a reluctant puppy. Apparently adults love it as much as the kids, but I won’t tell on you when you start giggling, so don’t worry about that.
‘IN THE DOGHOUSE!’ is due for release before Christmas – and a cracking little stocking filler it will be.
‘ON THE DOG WALK!’ is due next May – purposely in time to remind you to vote for ‘DOGNAPPED!’
There are plans for audio books for all three.
There’s a stage play to be performed next year – a political satire.
There’s a period radio drama if anyone would like to produce it.
There’s a comedy sci-fi novel to have the finishing touches applied. There’s also a blog to attend to – in case you hadn’t noticed.
Three months ago I married a wonderful lady.
There’s so much more to come now I’ve learnt to kick life back.
Oh! How did I start writing?
I guess I’ve always written.
How about you?