Saturday, 26 February 2011

The Drive

I want to focus on what drove me to start writing and where my drive for success comes from.

In the last blog I gave an overview of the last year, but now I want to focus on a few things that will give you an insight into why I write. To do this I have to go back to my childhood and record some of the experiences that have shaped and changed me, and given me my drive.

Growing up there was one thing that mattered most to me. FOOTBALL, I loved football. I loved playing it. From as far back as I can remember and until I was about 13 I was always in the top 3 players in my school. Looking back it was mainly because of my ability to run faster than most players. Our skill levels being similar at that age it gave me the advantage. I also played goalie a lot and remember 5 aside indoor games with the Boys Brigade. I would finish the games with bruises everywhere. I didn’t have much fear in those days and diving on a floor and getting a few bumps was nothing if it meant the other team didn’t score. Over time I got bored with being goal keeper and missed just running around like a headless chicken and scoring goals.

This love of football evolved into a new love and in primary seven I found I had a little bit of a talent for cross country running. I was 3rd in the Sutherland primary sevens and then 17th in the north of Scotland competition out of about 150. I ran at various competitions and also got involved in some athletics. I didn’t really win much but did pretty well, and most importantly, I enjoyed it.

My family and I then moved and I lost a lot of the confidence that I had gained and it took me about a year to settle into my new school. Running was no longer a part of my life and football again became the priority. It was the way I made friends with people at school and I have fond memories of playing football at lunch time with most of the guys in my year. I remember how we would still play a good ten, sometimes twenty minutes after the bell went. We got into trouble for that, but football was more important and fun than what school had to offer.
I was about 13 at this point and regained a love for running. We did it in athletics and in P.E and this recalled to my mind how much I loved it. I took it up again, but more as a hobby, and did compete in a few school competitions. Unfortunately I was ‘a late developer’ so most people I competed against were already ahead of the game and had been training for at least a few years. I would go running a few times a week and all my other time was spent listening to music, watching t.v. or reading. I didn’t read that much at this point but remember a few books I did enjoy. I remember reading Lord of the Rings for about 20 days almost non stop. Reading was never a priority, just something I did to pass the time if I was really bored.

We then moved again and I didn’t play football much at all. I lost all desire to play. It was mainly because of the overly egotistical ‘alpha’ males. I still loved football and played when I felt it was with people who I could actually enjoy a good kick around with. (People that knew me when I was younger may remember my overly competitive nature but over the years I matured and understood that competition was healthy but also sometimes destructive. So I kept away from it as much as possible. I now think I have a good balance and prefer to compete with my own achievements and try and improve on what I have done in life and not with what others have done, well maybe not in the case of my brothers, but that’s different).

At my new high school, Wallace High, I began to do well in my studies and came out with decent grades in 4th year (standard grades or gcse level for the English education system).
I began my Highers along side a few other lower level classes and began to run and do a lot sport. This was the time when I gained an interest in books and read books including Dracula, Net Force and many others. It wasn’t until sixth year (my last year) at high school that I really began to love English studies and it was mainly thanks to my teacher Mrs Burns. She chose some interesting texts and most memorable was Shakespeare’s Hamlet. I love the story and how I seemed to just understand his character and loved the language used and memorised a lot of it for my exams (unfortunately time has blurred most of what I had memorised but it paid off). I got a B and it completed my 4 Bs that I needed to be able to go to university.  At this time I also did a lot of sport maybe about 4 hours on average a day.

The summer before university I worked a lot and spent time with friends from work. A few years previously I had began to have a few minor problems with my eyes and watching screens sometimes became painful and even reading hurt sometimes. It wasn’t too bad but I remember it was that summer when it began. But I didn’t pay too much attention to it as it wasn’t too bad.

University began and it was great to have the freedom that every teenager desires. I started 1st year and did a bit of sport but reading became more of a focus. I was doing Sports Studies but did the minimal to pass and focused on things that gave me more enjoyment. That year flew by and in the summer of 2006 I went to America to work in a summer camp. It was one of the best things that I ever did and when I came back I took up running again. Unfortunately I started to experience a lot of pain in my knees when running so stopped. My eyes too had got slowly worse.

In Sept 2009 I began to have stomach problems that meant I would be sick a lot and I lost a lot of weight, which is saying a lot as I didn’t really the weight to lose. It was a difficult time in my life and has had a huge effect on who I am and with the stress it gave me I began to have panic attacks in April 2010 but these are all just part of the joys of life and I have always tried my best to deal with them, even though often failing.

You may wonder why I have given this history. Well it’s because it has been the sum of events that, when you think about, almost forced me to write. (My health problems: now diagnosed as chronic knee pain, ibs (mixed with anxiety problems) for my stomach and chronic dry eyes, all limited me in many ways, but also opened up a whole knew experience for me.)
As mentioned in the previous blog it was Jan 2010 that I started to write. I had started to be sick and found it hard to eat and I started to get fed up with it all I felt so limited (I know that sounds so ungrateful, as I do have so much, but it is all relative to each individual and at that time these things nearly destroyed me). I had often wondered if I was ever meant to enjoy anything again. Running hurt. Reading hurt. Watching films and tv hurt. Food hurt and I hated the fact that nothing I wanted to do was accessible to me.

I knew something needed to change, something had to bring me the happiness I missed and longed for. Just a hobby, that’s all I needed. It didn’t feel like too much to ask for.

I had thrown myself into my job, and apart from wanting some of the pain to go away, didn’t think of much else. Unfortunately work had become difficult too, as it was a 12 hour shift of doing nothing, and I needed to do something to keep me busy. That’s when the thought of writing came into my mind. I had always felt I had it in me to write and had read a lot of books, but it had always been more of a fleeting desire. At this time it became more than that. It was pretty much the only option I felt I had. But what to write about?

 That’s when one night I had a name for a character and an idea. Then the rest you know from the previous blog.

This new hobby gave me a drive. A creative project that was badly needed. I then had something to do and something I began to love. It was difficult because I had to limit myself to an hour a day of writing, as my eyes would begin to hurt after that amount of time. But I continued and began to gain a new understanding and confidence in my own ability to do things.

 In April I had written the first draft of a 100,000 word book and had 5 more books to write. I look back and think of that child who loved football and nothing else and think of the man I am today, and how different they are. What changed me? It was not the events, but how I reacted to the events that changed me. I always tried to make the most of the hand life gave me. I found other things to enjoy other things that have taught me much about life and my own abilities. I had this new drive to succeed and to gain a better life for myself through writing. Who knows what will come of it. I personally believe I will be very successful from it. I have moments of doubt but all I have to do is look over my work and I know somewhere out there are people who are going to love this story. I have such a strong desire for all forms of success and have already had many. So what is success??

Success comes in many forms. I know that no matter what happens I have been very successful because I have overcome a lot of my struggles. I have learned to believe in myself and believe in what I can achieve. This is because of the journey I have gone through with my writing. I have also had many of my weaknesses shown to me and tried to improve them (next weeks blog will be titled ‘strengths and weaknesses’ and will cover more on how, despite some weaknesses in writing, I knew I shouldn’t let it stop me). These have all been successes.
  It is also strange to think that if it had not been for the pains and illness that I have I would most likely never have found what a joy it is to write and create what I have.
The drive is part of me now. It has paved the way to being able to do much of what I thought I could never do again. I run once a week which hurts sometimes but I enjoy it so much that it is worth it. I do physiotherapy to help with other injuries and to get back the weight I lost. At times I feel stronger than I ever have and it is because of the drive. I have realised that even if something brings you pain, if it makes you happy, then that is more important. That fighting for what you want is so important. Sometimes it hurts and you need to rest, but as soon as you feel better, fight again, and again, and again. It is the only way to accomplish goals.

 Because of my experiences and because of writing I now know that if you believe in yourself and act upon your belief then almost anything is possible. Whatever success you want: whether financial gain; wanting to be proud of yourself; or someone to be proud of you; or fame and superstardom, it is available. It takes hard work, time and a lot of drive (belief), but I truly believe the only thing stopping you, is you.

Saturday, 19 February 2011

A long Genesis


This is my first post of a blog about my journey as a writer and all the fun that comes with trying to achieve my dreams. Before I begin I just want to thank my friend Cheryl for encouraging me to write this. I will update every Saturday and when I feel there is news or information worth sharing. So here it goes.

As most of my friends and family know at the beginning of 2010 I started to write my first book. I had no real experience in writing beyond what I had done at high school and at university, but I felt I had a few very good ideas for a trilogy and started to write the first book.

I wrote a 1000 words a day and by April the first draft was finished. During this period I had a wave of ideas and the trilogy developed into 6 books. I was very very excited by it all and all the ideas I had come up with for these books. I lost a lot of sleep when thinking about the books and often when a new idea evolved I was so excited that I felt like a child at Christmas.

The normal way of becoming published is to have an agent who contacts publishers. They will then hopefully publish the work. I wrote to a few agents hoping that they would like what they read but I had no luck.
In my research I found this is very common experience. It is also interesting to note that even if a writer gets an agent they may not get published, or find it very difficult. A prime example of this is J.K Rowling. Harry
Potter went to 12 different publishers before she got published (source: the writers guide 2011).

Also during this period I got in touch with an ebook publisher North Highland Publishing. They agreed to have my book on their website. In December 2010 the book was put on their website as an ebook.

Hard copies/Doing it myself
Having the ebook was great but I really wanted hard copies of my book for people to read. I had given up on getting an agent, as my personal belief is that the system of agents is flawed. I kept reading about successful authors who got rejected by lots of agents before they got one then became successful. I also read about some authors who got successful without agents. One example was of a writer who started their own publishing company and published a high volume of their book and sold it on ebay. They then became known by people and gained success (source: writers guide 2011).

I started to think that the only thing that matters is marketing and people reading the work.
So at the beginning of this month (February 2011) I went to Stirling University print services and priced up how much it would cost for them to print off an A5 copy and to see the quality. They printed it and I cannot express how excited I was.
I wanted to sell the book but it was proving difficult to find a way of doing it that was cost effective. Thanks to my friend Bruce and his advice I found a cost effective website to sell my book on. The service is a print on demand and when a book is ordered I contact the printers and they print the book off.

At this point in my writing career the main focus is marketing of my first book. There are a few things in the pipeline but I will update on these in the future.

My book
These are the websites were you can find information about the book such as the blurb, synopsis and also to buy my book.

Hard Copies:
Opinions on the book:

Thanks for reading :)