I remember once we had a parents’ evening in one of my schools and the deputy head asked the teachers what their dream was. Naturally mine was the write a book. I hesitated, because of course I had already done that. So the obvious reply was ‘To write a best-selling novel’. I gave a self-conscious smile as everyone’s eyes turned to me. The walls pressed in, the temperature rose, I felt my face begin to burn. But why should I feel embarrassed? It was true. Furthermore, it still is. I suppose, it’s the dream I share with every writer. It’s not the fame, or the money (if there is any), it’s the simple knowledge that your words are being read by hundreds, thousands, perhaps tens of thousands of people whom you don’t know. Wow, what a thought.
That was the goal. At first, however, I had to get published.
The thing is about trying to get published, you have to actually submit a book.
And I wasn’t doing that.
Yes, I was writing, now and again. Nothing serious. Just a few spare afternoons here and there. As I wasted time, the years came and went.
I did write ‘The Pawnbroker’ on Alderney, as I described in my last blog. It was a mere 22,000 words long. How could I call that a book? I had lots of ideas in my head, but not the energy to sit down at the keyboard.
We moved from Alderney, returned to the mainland. I got a great job as Head of History in a Middle School. I’d always loved history, and now I was teaching it full-time. No more maths or science for me – youpi! Well, that was the idea, at least. I was happy, and Suffolk was beautiful. I became…comfortable. Bad thing that, for a writer of dreams.
The years kept coming and going. They have a tendency to do that. Maybe you’ve noticed. I certainly did, most tellingly when I woke up one morning in a cold sweat. I was three months from being fifty. I didn’t know it at the time, but it was to be a prophetic sort of morning that one. I went on-line I noticed a piece of news, something I hadn’t seen before. It was an advertisement for a concert. Down in Twickenham, London. A so-called ‘reunion’ concert. Yes, I know what you’re thinking. I can hear the groans. How many more groups are going to reform and get on the money-wagon once again…True, true. Usually, I shun that sort of thing. But this, this was different.
Back in the Seventies there was really only one band for me. By the Eighties, I was totally immersed in them. Genesis.
Not everyone’s cup of tea perhaps, but they were mine, and here they were, the ‘Turn-It-On-Again’ tour, and I was soon to be fifty. Five days before my birthday they were on – what a fantastic present to give to myself. So, I bought the tickets and went down to Twickenham and… there they were. I stood amongst 80,000 other people and it was as if I’d stepped back in time. I had what is sometimes referred to as a spiritual experience.
What has all this got to do with writing? Well, it was this – As I stood there, singing along, punching the air, stamping my feet, I was struck by one simple thought: it was time for me to act! I’d just seen my musical heroes, from almost thirty years before. Thirty years ago, I had the dream, and in all that time I hadn’t done one solitary thing to make that dream of being an author a reality.
I was a man obsessed. Determined. Inspired. I began to write, in earnest. It was 2007; I was 50 years of age, and I had so much time to make up. I wrote like someone possessed. The stories poured out of me. My first completed novel was ‘The Well of Despair’. I was so very proud of it.
Then came the churning deep down in my stomach, because of course, writing a novel isn’t the end of the process. It has to be published, and to do that…I had to find a publisher. Or an agent.
So, I went down to the local library, as I had all those years ago. It wasn’t the same librarian who directed me to the correct shelf – that really would have been really weird. I found ‘The Artist and Writers Yearbook’, just like I had thirty years ago, and set to work. Now, however, it was emails, not letters, that were the order of the day, and off they went. A covering letter, a synopsis, the first three chapters. The usual form which has stayed with me every since.
Then I waited…
And you all know what’s going to happen next, because you’ve all done it. So I won’t say. Not until next time, that is…because the story has some unexpected twists and they are not so nice.
My latest hard-boiled thriller, ‘BURNT OFFERINGS’ is now published by Moonshine Cove Publishing. Just click on these links to purchase a copy:
and other e-reader platforms HERE (https://www.xinxii.com/en/burnt-offerings-p-337954.html) .
Thanks for your support.