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MY WRITING ROAD

I am at last a writer. Maybe I should qualify that grand statement a little. Obviously I can read and write, I am one of the 84% of Earths inhabitants that can read and write. Although if you look at the criteria for being classed as literate, the bar is not set that high at all. So where I am on the league table of readers and writers I have no idea, maybe in the lower half. Grammar you might have seen is not my strong point.

Getting to where I am today, a writer of novels, has taken a few years. Actually many. A better description might be a lot! Plus the road to becoming a writer has been a little bumpy. Let me start, some thirty years ago when I was typing out my first thriller novel, on a loud Imperial typewriter. I was young, innocent, plus poor, I had not bothered with a carbon copy. Hence, when some light fingered thief saw a tempting briefcase on the back seat of my car, the only copy of my story disappeared along with a new-fangled Rockwell LED calculator. For those of you who have no idea what a carbon copy is, Google it.

However, every cloud has a silver lining. I wrote to my local paper appealing for the thief to return my story, he or she could keep the Rockwell Calculator. The newspaper picked up the story and hey presto, I was featured prominently, big photograph as well. Valuable publicity. Well it would have been valuable, if I have had a story to sell at the time, which of course I didn’t. A missed opportunity.

Earning a living to support my young wife and family was a priority, so the typewriter was put to one side for a while. Ironically, in a strange twist of fate, I ended up working as a photographer, at the same local paper that I had featured in.

Which is why, when I finished my next book, with its carbon copy kept safe, I proudly presented it to one of the sub editors at the paper for an honest critique. He had been reviewing books for many years, so his opinion I value. Well if you want honest to the point of painful criticism of your writing, then hand it to a sub editor who has also been reviewing books for years. To be fair, he did say the plot was good and the action captivating, positive so far. He did however pick up on more than a few grammatical errors, factual inaccuracies, plus some of my descriptions were a little too fluffy. Now, I’m not sure why, but soon after that I was given a number of assignments that needed a story written together with photographs. I like to think they saw a spark of virtuosity in my writing. These were centre page features and restaurant reviews, yet helped me hone my skills. This work encouraged me to step away from the 100,000 word novel and spend my leisure time writing short stories. Which by now were being written on a highly sophisticated Amstrad PCW, (Just Google it!) Here I actually did have a degree of success, winning competitions and even a couple published. 

Then life, pulls the rug from under your feet, redundancy, meant a bigger focus on providing for the family and paying the mortgage. So writing was again put to one side, but not totally forgotten. In fact I came up with; well what I thought was a cunning plan. Literary agents, ask for a covering letter, three chapters of your novel and a synopsis. So that is what I did, the first 5000 words had been written, I knew where the next 95,000 were going, just not written. Plus given the knowledge that you get loads of rejections before an agent takes an interest in you, I thought, plenty of time to finish the book.

I was wrong. An agent from the first batch of four agents asked to see the rest of the book, which of course were still some 90,000 words short of a full thriller novel. I did come clean with her, she in turn advised me that the way I write is between two genres, my thriller was a little too cosy. (People get shot and die, is that cosy?) She also commented that I wrote like Nick Hornby, so maybe I should consider more light hearted writing. I sat back, another opportunity squandered.

Even though the advice was more light hearted writing, I still wanted to write thrillers. So spurred on by a positive reaction, I started to write seriously. Well as seriously as one can ever write, given that I still needed to work full time to support family and mortgage.

Then it was time for my mid-life crisis, which manifested itself in a number of jobs, having been brought on by the photographic world going all digital leaving me still in the darkroom. I drifted away from photography and ended up fundraising for a charity helping the homeless. Which to be fair I was pretty good at, I raised over half a million pounds from the National Lottery, which is a lot better than the odd £10 win I had on the weekly draw. That was followed by a spell as a security manager, cleaning manager, contracts manager before I went off to France to cut peoples grass for a living. Then coming back to Blighty and settling down, doing some more fundraising for another charity and then personnel manager.

Now this last spell of work included a regular commute to London, which afforded me some time to write. Technology having advanced sufficiently over the years, you no longer need to plug in a computer, I embraced the age of the laptop. Although to be fair, thirty years ago there would have been nothing to stop me putting my Imperial typewriter on my lap and loudly tapping away. Hence I managed to write one novel and three quarters of another one. Not bad, mostly due in part to South-eastern trains having regular daily delays. However, writing is the first stage, or as one writer said, the first draft is the beginning of a never ending end. 

So why am I now saying I am a writer? I have decided that as the family has grown and fled the nest, the mortgage is paid off; I have given up regularly paid work for the bohemian lifestyle of a penniless writer. Whether I die penniless or a rich famous author, only history will tell. Yet at least when they lower me down into that deep pit, I know I will have tried.

P.S. Well as you will have seen I am now a 'Published Writer'. So a degree of success in that respect, yet still penniless! The journey continues.