A novel idea

Unemployed bum or novelist-to-be?
Addicted to my iPad or chained to my word processor?
Getting up at 1pm or early riser? 

It’s been two weeks since I left my job, so how have I’ve been getting on? 


Friday 1st July. Today is my first day where I am no longer an employee. No work responsibilities, no customers moaning, reports full of stats to submit or bosses to please. It’s a Friday and I’m spending it doing what I wanted. And what I wanted was a long weekend with Shell at my parents’ caravan in Norfolk.

Ahhhh, this is the life. Sure, it’s nothing glitzy, but it’s near, on the coast and away from everything. It’s warm, and mix CDs compete with our duets as we get closer to our destination and into holiday mode. I’m not quite sure what Cromer made of “Last Christmas” blaring out of our wound-down windows on 1st July, but right now we don’t care. We get there in time to watch the obligatory Wimbledon semi-final loss for the Brit, and just laze for a while. It hasn’t quite sunk in that I’ve left my company and that today is the first day of everything. I give a few thoughts to the book I want to start writing, but that can wait a little while. 

Saturday is spent walking and exploring. We walk for miles on the wide, sandy beach, a cool breeze keeping us from settling in one place too long.

A drive to Sheringham and a chance find: a hill overlooking the beach, sheltered from the wind and a spot to rest for hours. I even read a bit of H.G. Wells to inspire me, although with a strong sun overhead I somehow manage to be well-red rather than well-read. A walk to the top of the hill near the end of the day resulted in some traditional Andy shadow fun.

Sunday is another lazy day – late up and then the tennis final. Nadal is obviously going to win, and so £10 is surely coming my way from Shell, who stupidly thinks otherwise. A couple of hours later and my face is even redder. 

We don’t have to take our… clothes off 

It’s Monday and I feel more free than I’ve felt in ages. We’re on a huge beach in Horsey and there’s no-one around. Wow, this is great. The sun, the waves, the freezing, brown, frothy sea…what more could you ask for? I can do what I want. I want to skinny-dip! I’ve only done it once, and that was in Kos, drunk about twenty years ago. And even that was with pants on. Should I? A few people appear on the beach, one with a dog. The sudden urge to strip off disappears. Damn. Maybe next time. 

Great Yarmouth PierGreat Yarmouth provides a Harry Ramsden’s fish and chip supper. The pier provides probably the most horrific collection of British comedians ever.

Once we have had our fill our tacky seaside towns, we head off back to Stevenage and back to reality. Whatever that is for me now.


So you wanna be startin’ somethin

I decide to write off this week in terms of starting my novel. I know, I wanted to begin straight away, but with the mini-break and then the return to work to say goodbye, it didn’t seem worth starting something now. Plus I have a few bits to do around the house. A voice in the back of my head pipes up about procrastination. I’ll listen to him sometime later.Thursday 7th leads me back to the work I left a week ago. This is weird, like I’m on holiday, just popping in. Everyone is smartly dressed but I’m in jeans. I feel like I’m an outsider now, yet still welcome. I achieve my main objective – to eat as much as I can of the wonderful BBQ – but then realise I have my presentation to come. I’m a little nervous –  I haven’t left somewhere for a long, long time, and even that was only part-time. What if I cry? I’d be forever known as that wussy PM who cried at his leaving do! I get a great speech from my boss and some revenge photos after years of my PowerPoints of him as various less-than-flattering likenesses. Fair enough. I then receive my present – but now what? Do I open it now? What if I don’t like it? Feign joy? I’ll leave it for the moment. Here goes my speech…

I’m now leaving the premises after saying goodbye to everyone I can. It’s so strange. I’m even walking down to the pub from here for the first time so I can have a few drinks later. My speech went ok, I think, and I got a few laughs so I’m happy. My present turned out to be an iPad, so I’m well chuffed, not only with the fantastic gadget but with their generosity. And best of all…no tears.

Manic Monday

Holy crap. This is scary. Monday 11th, my first proper day of writing and I’m lying in the garden, in the sun, waiting for inspiration to hit me. Audley Harrison couldn’t throw a weaker punch, though. After a good morning writing down a few ideas for a novel, I’ve dried up. Everything’s a distraction: the sun, wind, my cat, birds, planes – how many damn flights go into Luton? I’m in trouble if I think I can write a book. I’ve got a base of an idea but how do I execute it? Do I go mainstream or Sci-fi? Funny or serious? I’m just a pretender. Let’s go out for a few beers to celebrate my mate’s birthday.


Tuesday. I’m tidying the house. I’ve kept up the good habit of getting up before 8am every day so far, but I’ve a load of documents, files and bits to re-organise after decorating and I’m going to do it now. I also have my finances to sort out. They’ve all been calling me and I’ve been distracted. Yes, that was the reason for yesterday – I couldn’t concentrate with a long list of things I had to do. Of course. Don’t panic. Forget about it, Andy, and just do something else. At least I can achieve something today.

Blinded by the light

Here’s Wednesday’s strategy: 1) Put up the venetian blind in the living room 2) Get back to the story ideas.

The blind’s been taunting me for weeks, “Bet you can’t put me up”. I’ll show you. I start just after 8am, expecting it to be a fairly quick thing. Hmmmm…”To reduce width, measure and cut”. Ok, this could be messy. A long while later, my hacking has led to a fairly satisfactory reduction in width. Unfortunately, the wall brackets were slightly harder due to the screws they’ve given me being about as useful and robust as if they were made of cheese. More time wasted replacing them. Finally by lunchtime, it’s up. Awesome. Now for the main event.

Someone switched on a light in my brain! I can see ideas, I can focus, I’m shaping the story. I may even have an good enough idea to write a novel! This is great! It’s raw, but maybe I can do it. I have a notebook of scribblings, some computer files, even my iPad is loaded with apps which are helping me massage these ideas into something plausible. I’ve decided that sometimes the best way is to make a decision and go with it, so that’s it – I’m going with my marathon idea and a mostly-mainstream genre. The foundations have been laid. Let the ideas flow.

There could be trouble ahead

I follow yesterday’s example by getting the grass cut by 10am and doing the odd household chore. Then I sort out some photos and tidy the house for visitors later on. Not much time for ideas, though. I read a little and get distracted by emails, Internet, TV. Before I know it, I’ve done the equivalent of pushing around the food on my plate.

I discuss my ideas so far in the evening with Shell. This is not easy, I find – what if she doesn’t like it? I’ve run the concept by her previously, but it’s a difficult thing, baring your creative thoughts to your other half at this embryonic stage. Could her comments destroy my already-wavering faith in the idea? Will she be afraid to comment? What if I don’t like her suggestions? I start off trying to explain the plot as she sits patiently.

Thankfully, it turns out to be a very useful session. Not only am I more confident the idea’s a goer, but she seems warm to the concept. She even came up with some cracking ideas. “I want 50% of the profits, though!” Damn.

It really helped having someone to talk it over. This is a lonely process, just your brain versus the world. It may still be a disaster, and I’m not claiming I can even write the thing let alone get it a sniff of publishing, but it’s a start to build on.

Wired for sound

So to today. Once again, I set out to achieve a small task in the morning, before settling down. I won’t bore you with the geeky details, but suffice to say a man has to have all his electronic equipment connected properly otherwise it’s just not right. I then decided to run a PC program I bought ages ago: “Write Your Own Novel”. It’s not the most rounded pieces of software, but it’s just what I need to organise my thoughts into events, characters, timelines, ideas etc. I’ve expanded on my core idea and it’s getting fatter, more defined.

Now if only I didn’t spend so long on this damn blog I might get more done…

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