Ten years ago, I wrote a short story.
No, wait. Let's go back. Way back. Back into time... Something like forty years ago, I wrote a story. It wouldn't have been very long and was, I would think, not very good. I also drew a picture to go along with it. Again, potentially not very good.
I was five.
I may have been four, I may have been six but, seeing as one of the poems in my children's book Zits'n'Bits is called 'I Want to be Five', that's how old we'll say I was. An age of wonder, of Father Christmas, of the Tooth Fairy and of monsters under the bed. And, of course, the age of very short, potentially badly written stories. I'm sure my mum and dad were very proud, though.
I didn't stop. Since then I have carried on making up stories, creating worlds and inhabiting them with all manner of creatures and people - sometimes the two being one. I suppose that classes me as 'writer' then.
I remember being stood in the corridor at school with my friend, Tony. Now Tony has supported my writing from way back then and is a fervent supporter even now - to the effect that he is mentioned in the dedication, acknowledgement and text of Sin. I'd started writing a book. A proper novel. We were on corridor duty, there to make sure other pupils didn't run or fight and so on. We had badges to proclaim our Prefect status. I was showing him the beginnings of this book, this powerhouse of prose. I don't recall if he thought it was any good. Thinking back on some of the wording, it wasn't. A teacher came along and asked what we were looking at so I showed and told him.
I do recall the teacher being impressed. Not, I would think, at what I'd written, but with the fact that I WAS writing. I think the guy was the Geography teacher, but I can't be sure.
Either way, I didn't carry on that story. I did, though, write some GOOD stories at that school. The English teacher was excellent and it was he that gave me the buzz to actually produce a proper novel. So much so, in fact, that, after I'd left school and he'd retired, I used to send him my stories and he'd return them with the same sort of marks, corrections and comments he did whilst he was teaching me. Well, I guess he never stopped.
When I left school, my writing diminished. I still produced stories and poetry and, I believe, it got better. Life got in the way, as it tends to, and I was letting it. The bug didn't leave though. It bided its time then, one day, it firmly bit me on the ankle. I was writing more. I wasn't keeping a lot of it, but I was writing it. The advent of the internet was a real boon. Thanks to the world wide web, I had my work published in various small magazines in the US and other countries. Some even won competitions.
I then started another book. I'd had an idea and I went with it. Again, I drifted off it. The muse had me, then it jumped onto something different (something that curses me still - luckily, now, it does have a habit of returning). Reading that story back now, there are some very good ideas in it, I think. Some I'll use again. I may even pick it up again and finish it. Either way, I wrote a good deal and got a fair way into it.
Not long after I'd started this, I was getting into web design and so on. This would be around 16 years ago. I'd been sending my stories off for a while. Some were accepted, some weren't - such is the life of the writer. I set up a website for poetry and prose of my own and soon was receiving emails from all over the world from hopeful authors who wanted a voice and to share their work with the world. The website soon had the attention of Sky television who asked me to appear to discuss the pros and cons of electronic (which was really just web based then) as opposed to traditional publishing. There was me, effectively doing this 'in my bedroom' going against someone from Curtis Brown!
I had the last word, though...
Then, as I may have mentioned, ten years ago I wrote a short story. That short story is now the prologue to a fully fledged, fully completed, novel. Not only that, but it's been compared to two of my favourite authors, Stephen King and Dean Koontz, and has been called 'an incredible read.'
That and other reviews are quite humbling. From those stories written by my fiver year old self to the first attempt at a book to today has been a long road. Though Sin has been ten years in the making, it feels like it has been forty.
It's another thing to cross off my 'bucket list', along with sky-diving and walking through the Valley of the Kings in Luxor, Egypt, both of which I've done in the past couple of years. I lapsed, but I didn't give up. I wandered off the path, but my muse took me by the hand and guided me back on.
Nor should you - give up.
Ten years ago, I wrote a short story. Forty years ago I did the same and added a little drawing.
A couple of years ago I shook hands with the Community Development officer at the central library who bought ten copies of my book to put in each of the local libraries. Within ten minutes of that meeting I'd sold another ten to WH Smiths, a well know book store chain here in the UK - the one, through all those years, that I wanted to walk into and see my book on the shelf of.
Never say never.