Beginning – January 2015

Like many five year old kids, I wanted to be astronaut. So imagine my disappointment, when thirty years later, I’m sat at a desk in an air-conditioned office, wearing a suit, an Excel spreadsheet stretched across my twin monitors. Ah fuck, I was supposed to be on the moon right now.

And like many twelve year old kids, I wanted to be writer. A slightly less lofty aspiration, but no less satisfying. And besides, in the intervening years I came to discover that I was scared of heights. Being an astronaut was entirely out of the question when climbing the stairs in my secondary school was a task that filled me with dread on a daily basis. Writers usually keep their feet on the ground, albeit physically rather than metaphorically.

A stupid little pup, inspired by John Wyndham and Anthony Horowitz and wonderfully scared by Dennis Wheatley, I began to write short stories. Most of them were plagiarised from my novel du jour, but tiny pieces of originality started to creep their way in. And when you open that part of your mind, it’s very hard to close it again.

(Cue sad violins and maybe a sparse piano)

Ambition often gives way to real life and so here I am with a ‘proper job’, not writing or space travelling. Respectable. Secure. Boring. I am editing a fucking spreadsheet. For eight hours a day, five days a week. Feet firmly and predictably on the ground.

But in January 2015, something happened in the glamour-free Excel wasteland of my working life: I automated everything. A macro here, a formula there. The work started to drop off, so now my working day consisted not of editing spreadsheets, but of pressing buttons and sitting back so they could edit and populate themselves. It wasn’t exactly Skynet, but I was pleased with it nonetheless. I have always been a technically minded nerd.

Other than my productivity increasing, a significant outcome of this automation was that I had an awful lot of spare time between the hours of nine and five. An awful lot of time.

What could I do with that time?

Might as well write a novel, I suppose

So I spent the rest of January planning it out. Genre, character, tense, plot twists, who’s going to die, who’s going to sleep with who. Suddenly I felt a glow I had not felt since I was a kid, scribbling those stolen plots into my school notebook and irritating the teachers with my terrible handwriting.

No turning back now.

5 comments

  1. This is exciting. I’m about to dig into short story writing. Just gonna hold my nose and take the plunge. Start doing some of the exercises in a couple of books. I’m always glad be behind someone ahead of me holding the lantern. 🙂 I can already feel how much fun it is. I can also feel how terrifying lol. Ah well.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Pleasure to meet you! It’s both beautiful and frustrating in equal measure. I thought I’d start my blog partly as a reaction to all the negative ‘advice’ on the internet about writing. Lots of angry people telling you you’ll fail before you’ve even started. Bullshit. So happy to hear from someone also starting out! I wish you all the best and I’ll follow you on your journey.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Hey Jack, good to know powers which force you to have ample time are almost similar to me. 9 to 5-6-7-8 job and had to scratch the itch once people praise your writing. I am still in very initial stage for full length novel. But having my writing blade sharp through short stories whenever opportunities knock at my door. Nice to meet you.

    Liked by 1 person

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