Select Page

My Workstation!
You should write a new blog, someone told me. How about what the person behind the author is really like?

Okay, I said. I’ll give it a shot. Here it is.

I’m 53. I’m too old to give a damn, and I’m too young to know any different. I write books because I have to. If you’ve never written a book then you’ll have no idea what I’m talking about; if you’ve never attempted to write a book, or perhaps have never read a book (oooh!) then you’re probably looking for the little X in the top right corner. It’s up there – yeah, top right. Go ahead and click it. Bye.

If you have written a book – even if you’ve never had it published, and even if you don’t want it published – then I bow to you. No, lower than that. Down a bit – there you go. No, not that low!

If you’ve attempted to write a book and failed, you have my sympathy. They are devilishly difficult at times. And impossible for us mere mortals to master.

I’ve written a dozen or so (who’s counting), and they are difficult things to wrangle, let me tell you. Let’s put aside all of those writer-aids you hear about, the Plot Master, the Timeline King, the Character Ninja (stop Googling, I made them up), and talk about the logistics of writing.

Writing involves an awful lot of thinking about writing. Most frequent are the ‘what if’ questions that pop up all the time, and the continuity puzzles, ‘If this happens, then this must happen too’.

These are some of the things I regularly think about:

My lead character. I want you to like him, but I’ll be darned if you think I’m going to make him/her a lovey-dovey person who hands out sweets to kids and rescues stuck cats. If you want that kind of character you won’t find him/her in books. I want you to like my lead character on a subliminal level because that holds more power than your conscious level. I want you to overtly dislike him, and yet find him interesting or even attractive (even though you don’t know what he looks like because I’ve never described him). I want you to find him interesting enough to follow his story – even unwillingly. And I want that because I like the idea of you being drawn to him, inexplicably rooting for him, yet safe in the knowledge that you’re in good hands.

My story. It’s an evolutionary thing; it grows and it develops, and the longer I dwell on it, the deeper it gets. I keep adding details – the rust on the knife blade (why did they not use stainless steel!), thoughts and feelings, and if I can eke out a theme or a parallel, you bet I will exploit that thing as much as I can. I employ several sub-stories at once, because no matter how hard I try, I cannot ever get my life to have just one plot. There are always lots going on, most of them not connected to each other. And that’s what I try to recreate in the books – sometimes I can’t resist joining these threads up, sometimes they remain disparate. And I enjoy constructing them in scenes. Sometimes, though rarely, I can get a scene to last a chapter, but more often than not, life is made up of brief interesting snippets – and it’s these snippets that constitute a scene, and this is the way I write.

Looking back up there to the top of the page, I see I might have steered off course slightly. But at least it illustrates one thing about me – the man behind the writer – I’m obsessed. Indeed, I’m sitting here writing this now wishing I was writing my story. I’m at an exciting part where Eddie is about to examine a body in a murder scene, and… oh, wait. You’ll need to see it for yourself. Sorry.

The thing I obsess about most of all though, is time. I’m vividly aware that it runs faster the older I get. Life begins on a gentle slope, barely noticeable from the horizontal. Now, at my age, it’s about forty-five degrees, and no matter how hard I try, I cannot dig my nails in deep enough to prevent the increase in speed. With that in mind I’m desperate to… write; I’m literally running out of time. Yes, I know, you were expecting me to say that I’m desperate to travel, or take up knitting, or learn to fly, or play the guitar. But I don’t have the time to pursue those things; if I get any spare time, I write.

I worked 70 hours last week, spread over seven days. It makes available time very precious. But I still hammered out 10k words. I never got around to learning how to play the guitar though. Further proof that I am obsessed with writing, I suppose.

But I’m an indie author. So that means there are a million other things to attend to. Book-keeping (I don’t earn a lot so it doesn’t take up too much time). I run a newsletter with several thousand people on it, and I try to write to them each month, sometimes twice a month. Takes me four hours to crank out one of those babies.

I email and text and Facebook my way through the day, hopping and skipping from one to the next, as I try to keep an eye on how much money my adverts are losing, and praying for the day they actually turn a profit. I am hopeless at selling books.

Right here, right now, you’re looking at a man in full panic mode.

Let me explain. I’m 54 (see how time really does fly!), and I have another 13 years of being a CSI ahead of me (if they don’t sack me first and if I don’t just die). I can’t see me working 70 hours over seven days when I’m 67 years old. Can you? And because of some pretty serious errors I made when the angle was a mere thirty degrees, I’m way behind in where I wanted to be as a man in his fifties. I have to write myself out of this hole I’m in, and I’m running out of time – literally.

So being an obsessive writer is probably a good thing.

But I’m also a dad and a husband. Nights by the fire watching flicks are a thing of the past. I sometimes get to read a story or two with my daughter (she’s a youngster), but by the time I’m half way through that second book I’m ready to poke myself in the eye – I have to get up here to this desk, and slowly erase the letters on this here keyboard. I can’t see the ‘a’ or the ‘s’ anymore. Lucky I know where they are!

So. That’s me. Oh wait a minute – hobbies? Writing.

You see, it turned into a post about books again. Tut. Obsessive.

(Images courtesy of Pixabay. Except the keyboard, the keyboard is all mine!)

9 Comments

  1. Andrea Merchak

    I’m a big fan of yours. I hope you remain obsessed with writing. I loved to know a little more about the man behind the author. And although you never described Eddie, I have a pretty good idea what he looks like;)

    Reply
    • Andy

      Hi Andrea, thank you for your kind words; I’m sure I will remain obsessed – I can’t help myself. Andy

      Reply
  2. Dawn

    Hey Andy, whilst we all love the old grump that is Eddie, you have more than one lead character! Don’t sell yourself short and don’t leave Roger out – hasn’t the poor bloke suffered enough?

    I love that you have various sub-plots which may or may not come together as part of the main plot – that is life, everyone has lots of different things going on in and around their lives.

    Time is suspended over Christmas, if you’re not working you can spend some of it with the family – it won’t count honest. 😉

    Have a lovely Christmas

    Reply
    • Andy

      Hi Dawn, lovely to hear from you. I do tend to ignore old Roger, don’t I? I think it’s because I’m so engrossed in Eddie. I might look into writing a new Roger book some day – who knows? I do plan on having some great family time over Christmas, but you can bet I’ll still be thinking about the new book – and you never know, I might be able to sneak an hour in here and there.
      Thanks for all your support; have a great Christmas, and a super New Year!

      Reply
  3. Barbara

    Don’t do yourself down, young man. You write some amazing books, I know because I’ve read them al!! And they are truly gripping, well written and have very strong characters, – some one loves to hate, some that grow on you and those who worm their way into your heart.

    You do an amazing job full time and how you find time for a family life whilst writing as well, I really don’t know.

    Just keep go in. There’s life in them there bones and, where there’s life, there is always hope.

    Fifty four is the New twenty one!

    Now stop faffing around writing blogs and get on with writing those books we all love to read. 😉😂😂😂

    Reply
    • Andy

      Hi Barbara, it’s good to hear from you! Thanks for the kind words – they do mean an awful lot to this young man 😉 And yes, as always, I’m working on the new Eddie novel right now. Loving it!

      Reply
  4. Judith Baxter

    Thanks Andy. Glad to know the man behind one of my favourite characters. As for Eddie, I find him very real. As i have said a loner and a bit of a moaner, so very real.

    Reply
    • Andy

      Thanks, Judith! The man behind one of your favourite characters is probably more two-dimensional than the man I made up! Ahaha. There’s not a lot to me, I’m afraid. Boring. Anyway, I’m delighted as always to hear that you enjoy your time with Eddie Collins. I’m busy cooking another tale right now.

      Reply
      • Judith Baxter

        Don’t respond Andy but I wanted you to know that the s e and t keys are all worn away here too. So maybe , sometime I might get a book published.

        Reply

Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Please follow and like Andrew:
error6
fb-share-icon0
Tweet 742
%d bloggers like this: