Okay, so who the bloody hell am I?
I’m 32 years old, married, mortgaged, 2 cats. In my other life I work for an accountancy practice, which is even less exciting than it sounds. There is internet access, though, which kinda saves the day.
At some point in my late twenties, I came to the inescapable conclusion that working in an office until I was 70 (as retirement age will be by the time I get there) was liable to drive me insane. I had to figure out some way to escape, and I hit upon the idea that maybe I could write for a living. You see, from the age of 5 I was coming home from school and sitting at the dining room table for hours writing stories. The highlight of my school week was the weekly creative writing session in double English, and in those couple of hours I used to absolutely blitz through a wealth of material that was, structurally at least, pretty damn good for my age. With plenty of explosions, obviously.
I carried on writing throughout my teens, but once I left sixth form, that was pretty much it. By then I had acquired the laziness habit, well and truly putting the pro into procrastination. Why do today what you could put off until tomorrow? That character flaw has never permanently left me. It sometimes disappears for days and weeks at a time, when suddenly I turn into a crazily driven tunnel-visioned loon, but it soon comes back. It always comes back.
Going back to that moment when I thought I could become a writer, I took some time to work out what I could write about. Some kind of story seemed like the best thing. I’d write a screenplay. I had a wonderful idea, the best idea I had ever had – an idea, in fact, that I’ve been struggling to top ever since. The thing was, I didn’t know the first thing about how to really lay out a screenplay. But I did know how to write stories, and so I decided – having not written much for years – that I’d turn the aforementioned great idea into a novel. Nothing like throwing yourself in at the deep end, eh?
Of course, writing a novel is tremendously difficult. It’s not called “the long form” for nothing. The numbers of efforts that are abandoned after a page, a chapter, one third in, at the midpoint, even just before the end, are so many millions more than the ones that are ever finished, that just completing the first draft is quite an achievement, no matter how it turns out. My own novel was very slow going. I’d write a bit, stop for ages, go back, piss about with what I’d already written, get a tiny bit further, and generally annoy my then-girlfriend-now-wife by talking a good game but not actually getting on and doing it.
Despite all this, I finally finished my first draft. I was elated. The job was done! Fame and fortune awaited! Of course, nothing’s ever that easy. Particularly when you’ve picked one of the most competitive industries out there to try to become a part of. And particularly when your first draft… well… isn’t that great…