Travelling tittle-tattle, tall tales and shameless name-dropping by Jon ‘Don’t Call Me’ Norman

About Me

Sunday, 5 October 2014

The write stuff

A girl I work with called Alice has written a book. I haven't read it yet but I will as soon as I get my hands on a copy at her book launch.

A guy I used to work with called Phil left work to write a book. I remember reading the start of one of his earlier pieces. It was seriously good. He also likes cricket, ale and has moved into a house up the road. I should really see how he's doing.

My friend Gabs has written a 200 page short story and has emailed me a copy. I haven't read that either but I will do as soon as I finish this.

For as long as I've known Gabs he's wanted to be a writer. I hadn't worked with Phil for long before discovered he wanted to be a writer. I only realised Alice is a writer when I found out she'd written a book.

I also want to be a writer. I feel something in my gut when I'm walking down the street. It's an urge to tell the story I have to tell. Whether that is enough I do not know. When I look at the fears that Alice stared in the face, the years of witching-hour words Gabs endured and the financial hardship Phil went through I wonder whether I am prepared to go to such lengths.

What's stopping me? I guess I don't know where to start, if I have the talent, the grasp of grammar, the vocabulary, the time or the story. Am I brave enough to put it all out there? Do I have the discipline? All I do know is that there has long been something gnawing away telling me to do it. And that writing doesn't always come naturally. I started this blog about a fortnight ago.

The doubts are vast and varied. As I approach forty surely I should have hundreds of thousands of words behind me. All I have is a half-completed City Lit class in Creative Writing (which I had to leave because I went to the World Cup in South Africa). A couple of taped interviews with the bloke who started cricket's Barmy Army. Somebody else wrote that book. And 70,000 words from the 'blogs I compiled whilst travelling around Australia in 2006/07. Hardly Jack Kerouac.

Am I kidding myself? Maybe I am, maybe I'm not. I've always done things at my own pace and in my own way so why not this? Because I haven't even so much as got a plot for my book? I've got a vague idea it should be based on my travels and cricket and a central character who will probably sound a bit like me. Not sure how many people will find that interesting.

This is a description of Phil's book.

"The Song of Saint Cecilia is about lost songs, the ones of which there is neither record nor living memory. They sail aboard a ghost ship whose figurehead, Saint Cecilia, has lost the ability to sing. To recover her voice, she must learn what first drove her to sing. The progress of this quest is reflected in eight stories spanning two millennia, set anywhere from Ancient Rome to modern America,the Spain of Cervantes to Stalin’s Moscow. At the heart of each story, pivotal to the fate of its protagonist, is one of the songs that now finds its home on the ship – they are the novel’s true heroes."

Let me remind you what I want to write my book about. Travel, cricket and a central character who is pretty much me. Hmmmmmmm.

Everybody has a voice though. Everyone has a different approach to life. What works for me or you wouldn't necessarily work for you or me. I approach life with the view that my intellect or personality won't set me apart so I've thrown myself at experiencing as much of life as possible. Whether that's another night at the pub, a new book, a different country or a blog for me, it's all about hoovering up as much of life as I can. In time that sets me apart more than quick wit or a collection of higher grade exam results.

And then there is my long-term approach to life. Ten years ago I decided I wanted to become talkSPORT's cricket reporter. But someone without professional cricket experience wasn't going to be selected for such a role. I couldn't do anything about this so I decided to put myself ahead of my imaginary competition by travelling abroad to watch as much cricket as I could. That way, I figured, I would improve my cricket and broadcast experience in one go. Seven years on I guess you can say this approach paid off. Do I adopt a similar approach to my writing?

I'm not in competition this time though. I don't need someone else to let me write a book. I can do it myself, right here, right now. It's just a question of time and dedication. The dedication to get something written down every day. Get into the habit of devoting some time on each and every day to write something down on this blog. If I can do that for a year then I will know whether I have it in me to write a book.

So that's what I will do for the year of 2015. One entry every day. No excuses. Can I do it? If I can't then maybe I've answered the question that I think I already know.