Monday, July 24, 2006

When the plates come crashing down

While I was away I spent a lot of time thinking about Minx's advice to stop spreading myself too thinly and to concentrate on what I really want to do in life.

It's good advice, of course. In fact, I remembered that I tried it once before.

Back in the mid-eighties I sold the businesses I was then involved in and took time out to write full-time. My wife continued to work and I became a house-husband and took a greater role in looking after our two young kids.

My main fear was that I would fritter away my time and not do any writing. I needen't have worried. Fear tied me to the keyboard. Every day between 9 and 2.00pm I plugged away at my novel. It was about corruption in the oil industry and had a host of extraordinary characters, based on people I'd met in the industry.

By the time a year had passed I'd completed the first couple of drafts of the book. I was also climbing the wall. I was lonely, isolated and suffering from sensory deprivation. I realised I could never tolerate the solitary existence of being a writer. I got myself a job as a business advisor. Within the year I had started another business - one of the ones I still own now.

After a suitable interval I re-wrote the book and sent it off around the publishers. No-one wanted it. I re-read it recently. It is rubbish, totally lacking in any kind of merit whatsoever, not even worth filleting.

So that's why I'm a little apprehensive about becoming a full-time writer once again.

4 comments:

  1. Yes, the first book isn't often our best, probably because we work too hard on our firsts. Look at the juvenile drawings of Vincent--he was so intent on the job of mastering drawing that they're all wooden, forced, overwrought. Later, more relaxed, the gorgeous, fine-grained draftmanship came naturally out, and he could do damn little to stop it, though he tried.

    Take the ms to the fireplace and feed it in page by page. When it's gone it'll assume a more appropriate proportion.

    And again, welcome back.

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  2. The first novel I wrote is still in a box and will stay there or get fed to the fire as jta suggests.

    Just because your first effort, all those years ago didn't work out don't mean jack shit.

    I know you can write and you know you can write - the solitary existence thing can be hard but there are ways to ameliorate it - easier if you live in a city with a nice coffee shop nearby - which I don't unfortunately

    I currently write about half-time and do a bit of paying work the other half - and if you get to be a successful writer you have to work at promoting your books etc, so you don't get that much solitary time anyway.

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