Robert Godden’s musings and rants

I muse. I rant. This is my outlet!

Posts Tagged ‘writing

The Enforced Loneliness of the Long-Distance Author

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As an author, it can be hard to find the right amount of loneliness.

An author? What makes one an author?

In my case, I feel the fact that I’ve written a book. Not how many I’ve sold (not many), not fame and fortune (still some way off), not the thrill of having an international best seller (as if I’d know).

So, I’m an author. And this means I need to be lonely.

Even though JK Rowling wrote the first Harry Potter in a café, it probably wasn’t Quiz Night or during a morning mothers’ meeting, prams around the tables and chatter about whom what doing what to whomever else and why.

Ever the most spasmodic of bloggers knows you need a little time to yourself to write.

With a full-time job and a full-time family; I found my own patch of loneliness in the mornings.

At first it was when I felt like it. Some mornings. When I didn’t go fishing, or do a spot of reading, or watch the pay TV news that starts really early, or get out a guitar, or play solitaire… you get the drift.

After eighteen months and less than a quarter of a book, I started to regiment my loneliness.

Seven days a week, 5:15 to 5:45 a.m., I wrote. Finished the damn thing off in three months. Or so I thought. But more on that later.

My loneliness was precious to me. I knew it was going to happen. It meant I could gather stray thoughts during the day, knowing they’d have a home the next morning.

Most mornings that was about five hundred words. Sometimes I went a bit longer on weekends

Legend has it that when Ian Fleming wrote the James Bond novels in the Caribbean he had a pattern: one thousand words and then a lovely lunch; another thousand and then a swim and a stroll on the beach; another thousand and off to a cocktail party surrounded by local beauties. Perhaps his PR firm wrote that bit..

But even motoring along at one-sixth of a Fleming, I got there.

I got very cranky if anyone else in my household got up early. With the utmost grace, I encouraged them to go back to bed or do something else. I almost insisted, without being too obnoxious. Maybe a little obnoxious.

More than three weeks on the overseas holiday of a lifetime did not interfere. Everyday, half an hour. Sat on a hill in Menorca. Propped my laptop up on a hotel fountain in Singapore. Wrote the introduction at deserted bus stop using pilfered internet access at 5:15 one fine Lake District morning as the sun considered adding the colour back to an eerily grey landscape.

And so, I have a book and call myself an author.

When I was writing, I only shared it with two people. One was a good friend who I knew would never say a bad word about it. This was a very indulgent form of reassurance. The other was a good friend who is a professional editor. I knew that from her, criticism would be professional and constructive.

I was terrified of showing it to my wife. I was terrified of the truth.

And I knew I’d get the truth. And if that truth was negative, I’d never be able to continue. So I waited until I’d finished and handed it over. I was thrilled when she loved it.

It was tricky. I knew I’d written a solid business book. With vampires. Time travellers. Thought-controlled Toasters.

I wanted a book that was good fiction, but that had something to offer someone who wanted to build their business, or build their career, and do it creatively. I never once asked if I was doing too much; trying to put too much into it.

For me the quality of the fiction has been the surprise. I printed five copies myself, bound them with rubber bands and gave them to five people to look through, proof-read and comment. One  proof-reader wrote “I cried” in the margin at the end of one of the stories.

(Incidentally, my Mother, who is staying with us, just got up and asked for a cup of tea. Was I cranky? A bit. Where was I?)

So now I’m an author. I’ve got something I’ve proud of. And another form of loneliness.

I’ve now got to convince the world my crazy, self-published book (see www.1001nights.com.au) is worth buying.

I’ve got to become a long distance author; selling my stories to the global village. And that needs more loneliness; more time thinking about what I need before the day starts where I’m Operations Manager, Father, Friend, Son, etc.

Such is the addiction of writing. Such is the addiction of loneliness.

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Written by robertgodden

February 23, 2008 at 7:29 am