When I’m not animating, or running a business, I like to write. Its a great way for me to unwind from the stresses of the day and let my brain explore other creative avenues.
So far I’ve written a sitcom for radio, (which was commissioned by Radio 4, but didn’t quite get as far as going into production), a couple of drama series projects, and a few shorts. But whats’ really got me by the throat over the last year is trying to write a novel.
When I was young I used to dream of writing a book. In fact I remember, at about the age of ten, writing a big list of things I was going to do when I grew up. The first thing was writing a novel at the age of 13, which lead to me eventually buying WH Smiths, and ultimately being the first man on Mars. I dreamed big! I gave little thought to how I might actually achieve all of this, but that’s why childhood is so brilliant; reality hasn’t yet crept in.
Over the years the plans for domination of the stationary world has been abandoned, as have any hopes of planting by boots into the red soil of another planet, but the thought of writing my own novel has persisted.
I’ve tried once or twice over the years, but the furthest I ever got was about 30 or 40 pages. Then I’d lose confidence, I’d put it aside of a while, and when I came back to it I’d want to start all over again. It became a cycle of failure.
Then last year, while on holiday in Scotland, I read Stephen King’s ‘On Writing’. King gave me the confidence, and advice, to try again. So on September 1st 2009 I picked up my latest attempt at a novel, a story called ‘Yard Boy’ which was a mere 10 pages at that time, and I started writing. I worked on it every day and didn’t look back. One thing King taught me was how the fear of failure dogs every writer, and its usually only a day or two behind you. So I worked on it every day, even when I wasn’t sure where I was going. I put my faith in the story and the writing process, and didn’t dare look over my shoulder.
Three months later I had completed the first draft, a staggering (for me) 333 pages that had taken me by the scruff of my neck on an uncharted adventure into unplanned corners, unexpected places with characters who seemed to write themselves. Yes, its an old cliche that the story writes itself, but that’s how it felt to me. I was a chronicler, along for the ride, but never truly in control.
Almost a year later I’ve recently finished a fourth draft, and have plans for two sequels. The title changed recently, thanks to an insightful observation , two pints of beer and a curry, with friend and author Curtis Jobling. Its now called ‘Sorrowline’, book one of the Timesmith Chronicles.
I’m still amazed that something that I did in my spare time is now – to me – a complete world populated by people I know. The process has changed me, its made me realise that sometimes the mad dreams of a 10-year-old boy are possible.
Perhaps there is still hope for that trip to Mars after all.