Into the unknown

Well that’s it – I’m done. I’ve left the office for the last time as an employed man after 16.5 years at the same company and have headed straight into unknown territory. The future is uncertain. The pay is zero. Fear factor is high. And I love it.

Don’t get me wrong – I worked for a great company with fantastic people and a challenging job, but when an opportunity was presented to me, I looked around and thought, “You know what? Maybe it’s time I left my comfort zone, stepped out into the world beyond and start on a path that might take me to my dream.” Yeah, it’s a risk – today’s economic climate isn’t exactly churning out jobs for me to step into whenever I like – but I see it as a calculated one. I reckon I have a small window of opportunity to do something different, something I really want to do, and as I’ve realised maybe a little later in life than I should: if you want something in life, you have to make things happen yourself.

So, as I sit here, two hours into this uncharted quadrant, what are my future plans? For the foreseeable future, it’s to write a novel.

Write time, write place

I was going to keep it quiet to most people, as I didn’t want to heap pressure on myself, but after the umpteenth “So what now? Have you got a job lined up?” I decided to tell the truth. The alternative was to look vague or mysterious or just plain dumb that you jacked in a perfectly good job to sit around and do nothing. Part of me wanted to fend off the question, run away, go off and try, and if I failed, well no-one would be the wiser. I’d just use a cover story of being addicted to Jeremy Kyle and that before I knew it, six months had flown by. But then I thought, what the heck – let’s see how people react, plus you never know what contacts and advice you may discover simply by telling people. I’m pleased to say that everyone has been very supportive. Sure, I had to assure Mum and Dad that my world wouldn’t end just because I wasn’t in a job for while and that I would indeed get out of bed every day and wash my socks etc, but they were great about it, too.

I must admit I’m still scared, though. To give you a little background of how I got here:

Boy is born.

Boy finds himself with a very active imagination.

Boy writes lots of stories that teachers seem to like. Boy is encouraged by this.

Boy discovers computers. And girls.

Boy (well, man by this stage, but go with it) embarks on a computing career.

Boy, years later, re-kindles his desire to write stories.

Boy writes several short stories and gets a taste for it.

Boy gets some published on the Internet and two in print. Boy is very encouraged by this.

Boy eventually doesn’t make time to write, concentrates on career. And girls.

Over two years later, Boy decides to go for broke and follow the dream properly.

So you can see I’ve done a bit before and someone must like some of what I do, even if it is only of an average standard. But to write a book? Wow – that’s a whole new ballgame in a field I’ve never visited before. Where do you start? How long does it take? How do you get it published? Do I even have an idea I can use? What genre should I do? What if I create something rubbish? What if I can’t be disciplined to write tens of thousands of words? Am I mad????

Once upon a time

You have to start somewhere, and so today I’m taking my first step: ensuring I have the time. I’ve read up on the writing process, how to get published, have friends to ask advice but the rest I’ll just have to find out myself. But this is the fun bit!! The bit where everything is up in the air but where anything is possible. I’m on my own, but how good would it be if I can make it? My marathon training taught me to visualise the end goal – crossing the line – and so I’ll apply the same principle here. I can do it. I’ve had ideas, written them down, constructed characters, scenes, plots and got to an end, it’s just that I’ve got to do it much bigger. I’ve run 10Ks and then had to run a marathon. I wrote small functions and had to write a full computer program. I managed a small piece of a project and then managed the whole thing. Same, but different.

Finding the plot

Right now, I only have a nucleus of an idea. It could work, but needs much more to make it a proper concept I can write a book on. I may decide to scrap it altogether, or to fling myself into it and see where it takes me. I’ll run it by a few people, maybe get their ideas, do a little research. But one thing I must do is to build momentum. No namby-pamby tinkering on Google and scraps of paper for half an hour a day and calling it “writing” – I have to write, put words down. This blog is only a side-show, and I’ve written something somewhere almost every day of this half year, so I’ve got a little bit of traction there. I really want to give it a shot and not waste time.

So, have I got what it takes? Hands up who doubts I do? Be honest. Maybe I have, maybe I haven’t – I don’t know. But it’s just a book, just like a marathon is just 26.2 miles of running. It’s nothing. People do so much more, face so much harder challenges every day. You succeed in something with hard work, dedication, a bit of talent and a sprinkling of luck. Maybe this is all a pep talk just for my own eyes. But today it starts. Today I’m venturing out into the unknown. I may get lost, stumble, come back crying…but it’s better than staying at home, simply wondering what it’s like out there.

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