Back from the future – what I did with my gap year

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“Testing.” “Testing.”

Jeez, let me blow the dust off this thing.

Pffffffff.

Right! Stop the clock. I’m back. My self-imposed digital gap year (only it wasn’t a year, and I was still on Twitter, but hey) is over. And a lot has happened whilst I’ve been in digital exile I can tell you, and indeed will tell you, should you read on and not get distracted by a cat meme email recently arrived in your inbox.

First, let’s recap. Where have I been? And where did I go?

I walked away from this blog last July, somewhat mentally burnout. The plot of my latest novel had become more improbable and unfathomable than an MC Escher drawing, and the thought of blogging for the sake of blogging left me feeling underwhelmed – I refused to be a polluter, putting up posts with clickbait titles just for the hell of it. Nope, I was going to be shut up digital shop until there was something actual worth saying.

I figured it would only take a month for the mental clouds to clear and all to be sunny. I was wrong. It took 331 days for me to walk round the cranial snooker table, weigh up all the angles, chalk the cerebral cue and draw out an overblown snooker metaphor to play the next shot.

However, the time spent away has been helpful, and even productive. And I return here refreshed with mind abuzz and all creative cylinders doing whatever it is cylinders are supposed to do. So, here’s a brief update on what’s been happening, in order of magnitude.

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1. I launched a business.

In February 2016 I launched Wigwam eBooks – an epublishing business that helps authors get their books onto Amazon by formatting their Word docs into ebooks.

I’d wanted to set up a company like this for a few years – ever since I’d published ‘The Pirates of Maryland Point‘  and had friends and writing chums ask how I did it. I’d happily tell them but, halfway through most of these conversations, my audience would glaze over as the details started to get technical.

It took a while to design and build,  but chuffed to get it up online as it was starting to be one of those ‘if you don’t do it now, you never will’ ventures.

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2. I grew a beard

In May I decided it was time to take my writing seriously and so took to growing a beard. The results have been incredible. Seriously. Writing productivity is through the clichéd roof and with every stroke of my hairy chin, I solve plot holes and conjur up a cavalcade of characters and scenes. This is how Neo felt in the Matrix. Had he had a beard he would’ve been even more awesome, no doubt. I intend to harness this Samson like power for as long as I can, or as long as my wife can tolerate it.

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Yup, that’s Freddie Mercury on Darth Vader’s shoulders. 

3. I solved all my plot hole problems and had a writing bonanza.

I’d been working on a Freddie Mercury crime comedy that I felt was rather good, the problem was I just couldn’t get it to work. I’d written a killer scene that was, in my opinion, some of the best stuff I’ve done, BUT…it didn’t fit. And I obstinately refused to ‘let it go’, as Adele Dazeem might say.

I drew a line under the project. Even put a blog post up (my last one) saying the book was a dead duck. And that’s how it should have stayed.

But my brain wouldn’t sleep. It kept picking the idea up. The number of mental hours I’ve put into solving the plot is scary. I’d think about it every night as I went to bed (worryingly it sent me straight to sleep – interpret that how you will). I’d find myself scribbling notes on scraps of paper, chewing pens deep in thought, and running multiple what-if scenarios in my head, arriving at alternate realities and plot arcs. All of it, for nothing. I had to drop the ‘killer’ scene – I was just too stubborn to do it.

But then, an epiphany!

Where it came from I have no idea. There was no falling off the toilet and cracking my head on the porcelain to see the flux capacitor in all its fluxing capacitoring glory. The idea simply appeared. The missing link. Grand Unified Theory. The puzzle piece to rule them all. I finally had the plot solved!

Off to the writing desk I went, and accompanied by the music from Murder She Wrote, I typed like a hurricane and before I knew it I had novels sprouting left, right and centre.

There are 3 main novels I’m working on at the moment.

Freddie Mercury comedy – 47,000 words

Retrogaming thriller – 25,000 words

Time-travel thriller – 14,000 words

There is some old adage about only ever writing what you love, and I believe in it absolutely. If the heart of an author isn’t in it, the reader can get very little out of it. So, whilst thrillers are a bit of a departure for me, they are stories I really want to read and I’m enjoying doing them. Will they suck? Who knows. I’m happy to try and find out.

An average novel weighs in at about 80,000 words, so I’ve still some way to go, but I’ve made some nice long strides. I can’t say when I’ll finish any of them, but I really hope to close off Freddie Mercury by Christmas. There, I’ve jinxed it.

And that’s it. That’s a year in review. Thank you for coming back to the blog. I hope to be more regular in posting now, so look out for some future pieces on great discoveries at libraries, writing with and without alcohol, dealing with bad reviews, and more.

 

 

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One thought on “Back from the future – what I did with my gap year

  1. Didn’t you get married as well? I’m sure that was you…Or did you remember you’d got married but, on balance, still decide that the beard was much more important news? Not knocking the beard.

    Good to read you again 😉

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