I know I don’t usually do book reviews but I thought I’d make an exception for my own book. Besides, let’s face it, it’s not like anyone’s going to interview me about it. Ever.
So hey, y’know what? I wrote a book. It sounds really easy like that, doesn’t it. Well, it wasn’t. But it was actually nowhere near as hard as I thought it would be when I started out.
November 1st, 2009. My first NaNoWriMo. I had a month to write a novel. 50,000 words, or more if I dared. If I could. The hardest bit, as many authors have said before (oh-my-god-I’m-an-author!) is finding the idea. An idea that will generate enough ramifications to take root and blossom into an actual story. A story that can last for at least 50,000 words without becoming so mind-numbingly dull or insanely complicated* that it makes me want to bash my own skull in with my computer keyboard. Although admittedly that would make a good murder-come-suicide storyline for an episode of NCIS.
The idea came, as is often the case, when my mind was at its most available. Sitting on the sofa watching daytime TV on a sick-day off work, watching one of the 27 daily episodes of Time team in a row, on More 4. The inimitable Phil Harding was knee-deep in a muddy trench, wearing cropped denim hotpants (shudder) and marveling over some Roman find or other. And my flu-riddled brain wondered: “I wonder what, in thousands of years, will remain of our modern civilisation.”
That’s pretty much it. All the things that seemed important to the Romans, their music, their gossip, their day to day business… All that is gone, all that remains are a few bits of glass, some rare frescoes and the odd bracelet. What do we actually know about them? Or the Celts, or the ancient Egyptians, or any of those long lost civilisations? Only what we know from what is only a tiny fraction of their actual world. So what would happen if all the people of the future (or of some distant planet maybe) knew about our civilisation of today was the contents of one person’s collection of geek culture? We love to hoard, we love to collect boxsets and collectors editions, and arguably, geeks are the people best prepared for any type of survivable apocalypse, so what if?
And what if a whole new civilisation was built, based on that one reference library?
So I picked up that idea and ran with it. Metaphorically. It lasted me until the end of NaNoWriMo and I passed the 50K easily. But it wasn’t finished. I promised myself I would finish it, for months and months, it sat there on my hard drive like a nagging mother (Not that I would know anything about that, of course. Hi mum!) and finally, a year later, I decided to bend Nano’s rules a little and use a half-written novel as the base for my next 50K (not counting the original 50 in my total of course). I made it, just about.
Once I had finished, I sat down and gave it a good hard edit to shake out most of the filler that tends to accumulate in NaNo novels, and ended up with a finished book of about 90K. I read it through again, and quite liked it. I shared it with a few curious (and obviously masochistic) friends, and they all enjoyed it. Some of them even read it. A special thank you here to Stephanie who not only read it but sent my back a detailed list of comments, questions and typos that were a great help during my later edits. But still it wasn’t quite right…
In 2011 I did NaNo again, this time with a completely new story, and finished it first time, just hitting the 50K mark on the day before last. But that is – literally – a different story. Still I couldn’t seem to get my arse into gear and finish that final edit required to be satisfied enough to put it up for sale on Lulu. Then Annabel came along. During the whole of January, Annabel and Channel 4 organised a “Try something new Revolution”. It was a blast and I had great fun trying to complete all the missions. Then one Saturday, the mission was “set yourself your own mission”. What could I set myself as a challenge? Why, finish that darn book at last! So I did. I sat down, gave it that last dusting and layout it needed and bam, uploaded it to Lulu.
It was done. My book had officially been born. Mazeltov!
I doubt it will sell more than the handful of copies bought by faithful (and obviously masochistic) friends, and that wasn’t really the point (although if you want to buy one, feel free, it’s available here in both ebook and print…) – the point is, I’ve actually done it. It’s finished, completed. I have published a book.
That’s one thing crossed off the bucket list.
Now, has anyone got Hugh Jackman’s number?
*or both. Like the Millenium trilogy. Especially the third book. Ugh.
P.S. I may have forgotten to mention, but my book – as in an actual physical, published thing – is available here: http://www.lulu.com/spotlight/katcal and you can actually buy the damn thing! Isn’t that just AMAZING????!!!