Smile when you’re winning

So, FINALLY, almost five years after I began my first novel I have managed to pull a winner out of a mess of a loser.
That first novel is always a rush of endorphins, the excitement overwhelming as you rush through, throwing all those superlatives and metaphors around, safe in the belief that you’re crafting the masterpiece that’s going to bring you the recognition and awe of your peers and, if we’re all honest, a little financial reward too, only to find you have actually created a half-assed nightmare for yourself if you ever plan to actually show it to anyone with the vaguest critical capacity.
I forced my earliest effort on my sister and my ex, Emma and I really should apologise. Actually, I think I did but whether either of them will ever read anything else of mine after the trauma of attempting to wade through the drivel of repetitive, poorly punctuated rubbish I threw at them: who knows?
Sorry okay? I was excited!
If you ever write that book you think you have inside you, you’ll probably make the same mistake in the haste and overexcitement of actually creating a manuscript too. No-one told me how good the finished product needed to be and in my arrogance (I’ve read Tolkien/Dostoyevsky/Bronte/Dickens)
I thought I was good enough. Ha, did I have a learning curve…am I still on it?
Fuck, it’s steep!

Now every time I begin anything at least I know the level I’m working to. I totally understand the competition, standards, level of grammar, spelling, the understanding of the craft expected and I’m prepared to meet every one of them. Now I am a ‘proper’ author I craft my literature in poetic prose worthy of actually being termed literature and I strive to reach deeper inside to pull out more every time I write. I had no idea I had all this inside me but there is more. When you compare your work to some of the greats and realise how far you have to go it’s daunting but what can you do other than keep trying?
It’s not as if I can stop now I’ve begun the attempt.
I know I’m never going to be the Jimi Hendrix of literature. I’m hoping to become a good craftsman. I can entertain; I can conjure images; I can tweak emotional responses from myself and my audience but still I don’t have the grasp of nuance and storytelling that others find so easy but then I’ve only been at it five years.
Maybe in another five years I might have discovered that story.

In the meantime I’ve worked like a donkey to rewrite, proof, edit, check check check until I’m finally happy that without a total stripping of the constituents and starting from scratch, this is the best I can do with this novel. It has all the elements of the original but now encompasses proper space, some wonderful imagery, metaphors worthy of it and the eloquence expected of a published work so…I’m happy.
Essential it is the story of me as Paul, the main character, the area I grew up in and features members of the Clarke family (my own) of which only three now survive.
It’s the idealised childhood I wish I had led although I can’t complain. Growing up next to a forest has given me the love of nature, the awe and tree-hugging feyness required to draw such emotions up from the deep well that resides inside me.
Pretentious? Yes, of course, how the hell are you going to do anything if you don’t have a degree of belief, pretentiousness, poeticism, ego, arrogance and the sheer bloody-mindedness you need to keep going when others write you off through their own lack of belief, lack of imagination or simple jealousy of your skills?
People don’t like different. They don’t applaud success. Few genuinely want others to succeed where they would fear to try. It’s a sad fact but if fame, fortune and applause arrived I think it might be a fairly lonely experience. I’m not sure there would be many laughing along.
Luckily I have enough self belief and arrogance to honestly not give a Furrrr.
Only a few weeks and I should have another book out and if the proofing of ‘The Act’ goes to plan maybe that will be ready by July too.
It’s going to be a busy year by the look of it.


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