So, before I read an except from my upcoming crime fiction novel The Enemy Inside, I wanted to talk a little bit about how I got to this point, in case there are any other budding writers in the audience and to show you that not all novelists are insular alcoholics. Just kidding, I’m not insular.
When you dream of writing a book, it’s very easy to get caught up in the ‘shoulds’.
I SHOULD have the entire book planned out from beginning to end before I write it.
I SHOULD have a degree in English literature from Harvard.
I SHOULD love the classics, and aim to write for posterity.
I SHOULD have an impeccable literature pedigree and be the love child of Jane Austen and Tolstoy.
Well, I am here to say that this is utter crap. When it comes to writing a novel, there are no shoulds and shouldn’ts. All there needs to be is a love of what you are doing.
I have wanted to be a writer for as long as I can remember. But like most wannbee novelists, life got in the way. And I let that be my excuse, because the alternative was too scary. Write a book? No way! Put my heart and soul on paper and have it rejected and critiqued? Are you kidding?
I started my career as a cadet journalist in the central west of NSW. I wrote a lot of stories about sheep and cows. I remember a personal highlight was visiting the cattle yards to do a story on a five-legged cow. I came away from that experience with a deep and profound sense that I needed to do something else with my life, and that I needed to become a vegetarian.
Because this job was making me tired of words, I decided to make the foray into PR, and eventually found myself managing a PR company in Sydney for Satan, beset by ungrateful clients and ‘unreasonable’ journalists.
Anyway, I loathed this job. I loathed it to the point where I actually wished to get hit by the 190 bendy bus on the way to work in the morning. And it wasn’t helped by the fact that every night I would dream of writing the first chapter of a book. Every night it was the same damn thing, the same words, the same computer screen, over and over, and this went on for about a year.
Eventually, I got so fricking tired of this dream, I sat down and wrote this stupid first chapter, just to get it out of my head. But the muses didn’t stop at this first chapter, and before I knew it, I had written a significant portion of a book that looked like it was shaping up to be crime fiction. Who knew that was in me?
I quit my job to write this book, not knowing anything about the characters, not knowing how on earth it would end, and not having any knowledge about the shoulds and the shouldn’ts of the writing world.
The point I am trying to make is this: I am not a brilliant writer; year 12 students will not study my work 100 years from now while sitting on the Death Star. But I am persistent to the point of insanity.
I wrote this book, even though I couldn’t afford to not be working. I ignored the rejections, and trust me, there were many. I sat down at my computer to write, without any clear idea of what words might come out of me that day. I did it for the love of it, and if I can, anyone can.
I shudder to think what great classics will never come to be read because they are still in a head or a desk drawer somewhere. So if you want to be a writer, be one, you don’t just owe it to yourself, you owe it to me and every other lover of books out there.
With that in mind, I’ll read the first few chapters of my debut novel, The Enemy Inside, which will finally be released in August this year, seven years after I first had the dream that inspired it. And yes, the first chapter is almost word for word of that dream…
Trigger warning! There are descriptions of assaults and violence in this reading that some people may find disturbing. There is also a helluva lot of swearing. But this is crime fiction, so it’s not about unicorns farting rainbows…