I always wanted to be an astronaut. True, I also wanted to be a professional footballer, but let’s face it – that was never going to happen was it? As a kid, my head was often full of fantasies of going into space, and whilst planning this novel, the thoughts have never been far away, especially in this historic week. So, what do I do with these thoughts?
This week has been a tough week. Ok, in the grand scheme of things this week has been as tough for me as sitting softly on a cloud, having my feet rubbed by bikini-clad bronzed beauties whilst watching an HD compilation of Liverpool’s best goals versus Utd (albeit much longer), but in terms of knuckling down with my novel ideas, it hasn’t been easy. I’m not sleeping that well, partly probably due still getting used to being at home every day, and partly due to my cat yowling a deathly cry at a spookily-regular 5:00am each morning. This has led me to being a bit zonked during the day, with a lack of concentration and focus to bring ideas to keyboard. Aside from one really tired morning, I’ve been getting up (and staying up!) before 8am every day, but before I know it, the clock has zipped into the afternoon and the cat is yowling again, this time for his dinner. Every second I sit here alone, with nothing inspirational coming out, I can almost see my fingernails growing.
Distractions continue. The Internet is just too accessible. Maybe I should go back to dial-up, that would put me off. I rush to the door every time something falls through my letterbox, even though I know 99% of the time it’s bloody pizza leaflets or those plastic bags charities push through almost daily. How many clothes and shoes do they think I have? If I filled even just one item for each bag, in a few weeks I’d have to be begging at their door just for a clean set of clothes. I’ve been good with the TV, but I’ve always got something else to do, some reason not to tackle my novel. I once read a quote saying that writing was like having homework every day of your life. Well I hated homework, so what the heck am I doing trying to write a novel?
That’s not to say I’ve not been productive. I’ve filled in a tax return, seen a financial advisor, contacted relatives, read a whole book, played badminton, gone to the vets, re-submitted four short stories to various sites and backed up my friend’s VHS tapes onto DVD, but they’re not exactly my priority 1 task, are they? I’ve even had time to come up with a possible reason to my 5am cat problem (the evil Sky corporation deliberately download stuff to my HD box at 5am which in turns makes the hard drive go all noisy, thus waking said cat who sleeps opposite. I think it’s all a conspiracy of a darker matter, but I’m working on it…) However, perhaps I was inspired by the bit of history I witnessed yesterday morning…
On 14th April 1981, I vividly remember watching live on TV the Space Shuttle land smoothly, thinking how cool it was that we now had an aircraft that could not only fly in space but come back like a plane, too. I’d been born too late for the Apollo project, but the Space Shuttle was my era. I even saw one on the launch pad in Florida in ’95. So it was with some emotion that I watched Atlantis come in out of the dark into a Florida dawn yesterday morning, bringing this era to an end. Just what did I do with that Space Shuttle Airfix kit I had all those years ago?
My main interest in reading has been science fiction for some time. Taking a look at my bookshelf behind me and my meagre collection, I can see Asimov, Arthur C Clarke, Stephen Baxter, H.G Wells and Harry Harrison. Add a bit Stephen King, Dean Koontz, Dan Brown and it’s all serious and dark. Luckily, the likes of Robert Rankin, Tom Holt and the Red Dwarf creators, Rob Grant and Doug Naylor, add a bit of colour and humour to the collection. So my initial thoughts on a novel was always sci-fi, however, over the last few years perhaps that has changed. I began to find that some new sci-fi novels could be a bit too intense, a bit too detailed and involved at times. Writers with a PhD in Astrophysics, experiences in astronaut training (damn them) and expertise in extraterrestrials, albeit without the practise, presumably. So I’ve had a few holidays and read Ben Elton, had Nicholas Sparks recommended to me, discovered Shell’s Nick Hornby back catalogue, and even tried a few of her “pink cover” girlie books (obviously only when on a beach without a library within a hundred mile radius).
Having decided on my marathon idea as a basis for my novel, my inner geek was pestering me still. “Sell-out!”, “You love sci-fi!”, “Where’s the flying cars/teleport/time travel/aliens?”. I quietened him down, swatted his glasses off, and told him to go watch a Blake’s 7 DVD. But he made me think. Gave me an idea. On a very, light level – a fun level – it might just fit in nicely with my current idea…
So for the past two weeks I’ve been toying with this element to it and today have finally put it together, even making it an integral part of the story without ruining it. I’m excited. It’s a book I’d want to read, and it’s certainly one I want to write. Maybe it won’t work as well as I hope now, but it’s different without being wacky. Should I tell you all now? No, I think I’ll wait a little while longer.
What kind of writer would I be if I gave it to you all in one go?