From faraway shores, my Guest this week talks about how he took his first steps on this crazy road to become a writer. Ladies and Gentlemen...
Getting Started In Writing
Readers, aspiring writers and even practiced novelists often like to know how someone started to put pen to paper, which is what I still do by the way. I still write all my work in rough, before typing it up into neat onto the computer.
I started seeing things that I thought would make good stories about forty years ago, but I did nothing about them, even though I had studied Russian at university and so was used to writing all sorts of pieces from simple exercises to dissertations.
However, a novel, me? Never!
I had had to read lots, and always had for school, and I did enjoy reading but I didn't know any writers and we certainly didn't have any in our family that I knew of.
If you consider that the average novel nowadays could be 90,000 words or more (although books in those days did seem a lot thinner) and I was used to writing essays of 1,000 to 3,000 words, then writing a book was never an option for me. I found my first 10,000 word dissertation so scary!
Anyway, one day, thirty years on, while I was between jobs, a good friend invited me to join him on holiday for a month in Thailand, so I went.
It was ten years ago to the day as I write this piece.
On that first evening, on a double date, I met a girl, whom I later married. It was easier for me to move to Thailand than it was to get her a settlement visa in the UK, but that meant that I would have to work here too, although there was nothing I was qualified to do and a work visa would not have been easy anyway.
Teaching English was certainly not for me either, because I don’t have the sort of patience required, although I am a patient man, I think.
I was already using the Internet a lot, so I started creating web sites. It got to the point where I had 140 of them and I was doing well, but writing content to keep that amount of sites fresh was a nightmare.
One year, I wrote 1,200,000 words' worth of 500-word articles for my web sites!
It crossed my mind that that was actually enough to write a dozen novels, so I revived an idea for a book that I had had five years before and wrote 'Behind The Smile'.
A lovely woman won a copy of that first book in the only competition I have ever put it into. She liked it and wrote a smashing review, which she put on Amazon (yes, it is still there). It was great to know that someone had actually enjoyed what I had written!
That novel proved quite popular and four people asked for a sequel. When Google closed my Adsense account a year later, they cut off my main source of income too, so all I was left with was writing books and promoting them.
After that first book, I went back to Wales for Christmas, and my stepmother said rather nastily: 'I suppose writing is a skill that can be learned with practice...'. (Six months later, she disowned me 'and all that that entails', although she may have had other reasons too). Nevertheless, my friends and brothers loved 'Behind The Smile', now called 'Daddy's Hobby' and some old friends said that they had been telling me since we had left school that I ought to have been writing for years.
I don't remember anyone ever having said that, but as I dwell upon it now for the purpose of this article, two years later, perhaps they did, but I didn't want to hear them because I was intimidated by the idea.
I returned to Thailand and another four people asked me for a sequel, so I wrote one and then a third to make a trilogy. (I am writing a fourth and planning a fifth for this year). I have now written twenty-three books and organised all the articles from my defunct web sites into a hundred ‘teach yourself’ booklets.
So, the point of this story?
It is that you should listen to your friends, but not necessarily your family :-), when they have your best interests at heart. You just have to go for it. If you feel awkward expressing your opinions in public and offering them up for public scrutiny and criticism, start with a blog, but write and publish posts regularly and often.
The best piece of advice I have ever had on writing was the daily quotation from the bottom of a desk diary. It said:
‘If you want to be a writer, write for at least ten minutes a day'.
I have never managed it, because once I start writing, I cannot stop and the hours fly past.
One last thing though, as cruel as my stepmother's comment was, it was true - you can and do get better at writing by writing. So, if you want to be a better writer, keep writing! Reading helps a lot too.
Good luck in your endeavours,
and if you want to contact me, please do.
and if you want to contact me, please do.
When Owen is not writing novels in exotic lands, he can be contacted here:
Lulu Spotlight: http://www.lulu.com/spotlight/owenjones
Thank you, Owen, for an interesting insight into how someone can take those first steps toward becoming an author.
Eric @ www.ericjgates.com