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The Story of Writing a Story

You may have heard the old Alain de Botton line, that writing a book is like telling a joke and having to wait two years to know whether or not it was funny. It’s an allusion, of course, to the fact that after spending sooooooo long thinking about and researching and planning and then writing, then re-writing, then editing and re-writing your book, you then send it out to agents and publicists and publishers. And then, should the stars have aligned just so and the right person happens to see your manuscript at the right time, you might just be privileged enough to see your work actually published.

It’s a scintillating, amazing moment, a fantastic feeling. That thing, those thousands and thousands of words you worked and re-worked, cut and replaced (or cut completely) before rethinking it, putting them back but just in a different order, eventually wondering if your creation actually makes any sense at all… after the page blindness, the second and thirty-second thoughts… after leaving it to one side for a while, hoping to gain a fresh perspective… It’s just astounding that someone out there actually thought enough of it, liked it enough to take a punt on it, to spend their own time preparing it, editing and marketing and arranging the artwork and organising its production.

That is an unbelievable, momentous thing, and having just experienced the release of my first novel, Porcelain Shelter, I can tell you it is fantastic while, at the same time, it is also extremely surreal. I suppose it’s a bit like seeing your first-born leave the house for their first day of school, or being offered the job you’ve always wanted and have been waiting years to finally get the opportunity to do; there’s that happiness and, I suppose, a bit of pride in actually achieving something you set out to do, but also it brings with it a not insignificant amount of further anxiety.

Once the book is published you then start worrying that no one will like it, that the people who have been generous enough to try it, who have spent their hard-earned money on it, on this thing from this guy they have never heard of before will just be annoyed and dismayed at having purchased something so disappointingly horrid. And that’s without even mentioning the people you know and care about, who have been so supportive about it throughout the entire

process – what if they think it stinks? How will you ever be able to show your face anywhere ever again??

But, with a fair bit of surprise and a tremendous amount of heartfelt gratitude, I am thrilled to report that, so far at least, people have seemed to enjoy it and I think, after all the work and doubt and everything else, that has been the most rewarding thing of all. So, may I just say an enormous, sincere thank you to everyone who has taken that chance and read Porcelain Shelter, and to those who have said and written such kind things about it.

There has, apparently, been a bit of a glitch in some countries where kind-hearted people have been unable to buy a copy using the Amazon link, and while it seems that link has been working for some, the best route to take (should you be at all interested in reading the story) is just to search Amazon in the first instance and then, once purchased, it will show up ready for download to whichever device you are using for your Kindle indulgences.

So, thank you very much once again for your support and kind wishes. It really does mean more than you’ll ever know :)

Not that I am any expert in any way but, If you have similar ambitions for writing, may I offer you these few pieces of advice I’ve picked up over the years:

Read as often, as much and as many varied things as you can, build a good writing habit through journaling and do a little bit of writing every day. It’s far better to break it all down into smaller chunks, like a daily word count or a single page a day and, in that way, you can achieve small, but measurable, progress on your book. As John Steinbeck told the ‘Paris Review’ in 1943, ‘Abandon the idea that you are ever going to finish. Lose track of the 400 pages and write just one page for each day; it helps. Then when it gets finished, you are always surprised.’

If you have the stories inside you, don’t let the fact that it’s not easy put you off. Write and read, imagine and invent and, most of all, have fun.

Finally, if you would like to contact me, just to say hello or for any other reason, I would be delighted to hear from you –


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