“Maybe I should be a writer, write a book and feel much brighter, and share my thoughts with the world.”
The Wonder Stuff, 1991
Hi there, thanks for popping over. I have been involved in the book industry for around three years now. I had no idea when this journey began what it would entail and what there was to learn.
To me it was simple: Write a good book. Send it to a publisher. Get published. Earn royalties.
I was so wrong.
In my “Lifting The Lid” series of blogs, I want to share everything with you. And I mean everything. I want to tell you everything I know about writing and the how the huge machine that is the publishing industry works. I will be completely honest about everything I’ve learned, so you can avoid my abundance of mistakes. It’s time to share. To do this I need to go back to the start and tell you ‘Why I Write.’
A while ago…
I’ve always loved writing. As a kid, I used to self-publish little magazines with a mate of mine, Mark. People used to buy them. As I grew older, I kept journals of everything that I observed and noted things on the back of bus tickets, sweet wrappers, pencil cases and scraps of paper. I went travelling a couple of times in an attempt to escape the humdrum of modern life. I wrote everywhere I went. I kept everything.
I had spent a lifetime dreaming of being a writer. Each time I managed to escape my day job and spend a few months away, I was eventually drawn back by the sadly necessary evil: money. My wanderlust was defused again and I returned to behind a desk in an office somewhere. Around this time, I settled down got married and had kids.
My life up until that point had been a muddle. I went to University to do a degree I wasn’t sure I wanted to do. I did a day job to save up enough money to escape to America or Poland or Slovakia or New Zealand for a few weeks or months. My home life, although normal from the outside was unfortunately littered with spurts of undiagnosed mental health issues. I was seventeen when my brother jumped from a multi-storey car park. This changed the game. For everyone.
I was married for three years when my brother finally succeeded in taking his own life. It had taken place in my kitchen whilst we were on holiday. Three years after that, I got divorced. Up until then I had busied myself with doing my day job (though this time with a reason: a family to provide for) and spending time with my three lovely kids.
Almost in an instant, I was alone. I served a six month sentence at my parents two bedroomed bungalow, and got my own place. The pattern of my new life was evident. It consisted of work through the day and half of my nights I had my children to stay. This left me with half of my nights to myself.
I had talked about writing a novel for ever.
And so, with the backdrop of suddenly-not-being-with-my-children-every-day and the spectre of suicide shadowing me, I sat down to write. This was not an easy time: nights were long; sleep was sparse and the dark thoughts regarding the relevance of life crept in. I was fortunate though, I had my novel in my head, The Radio (God, I knew this story inside out) and writing it was to be an exercise in catharsis. It wasn’t supposed to be. But, when I began to write I could just feel the words leaving somewhere deep inside me. It might sound corny. I don’t know, but it allowed me to escape into the screen.
The story is in some ways autobiographical. Large parts are taken from my own life, but being able to design events in the way I wanted and allow characters to become something else – something I’m not – became addictive. I’m not saying anything new here, Tennessee Williams beat me to it a half-century ago describing his writing “as an escape from a world of reality.”
And this is why I write. Because of the feelings it allows me to explore. Because of the characters and worlds I can create. Because, unlike reality, I have control. Because I love it.
[I’m sure once my teachers told me never to begin a sentence with ‘because’. Ha.]
I hope you’ve enjoyed the blog, next time I’ll be sharing with you, How I Write. You may pick up a few tips. Or simply disregard what I say.
Take it easy,