And Now, The End Is Near

I haven't been updating my blog for a while, and the reason I have been so tardy (lazy?) is that I've been busy finishing off my novel, before it finishes me.

Regular readers of my scribblings here will know that I decided earlier in the year to put my money where my mouth is - and for all you smart alecks, no, my mouth is not what I sit on. I have bored myself to death for a few years with the thought of writing a novel, so I started it in February and - do I hear a fanfare? - I have just finished polishing it till it blinds. It may not win the Nobel literature prize, but it will certainly be amongst the winners at the Mister Sheen Gleam Awards. 

I am now a bona fide, real, card carrying novel writer. Ta rah. Except you will have to take my word for that because the book is not in the shops, nor on Amazon, not available as an e- book. Yet. It seems that the months of hunching over a keyboard will be the easy bit, because now I have to find an agent and a publisher.

You may have written a book before and know what happens next, but it's been a learning curve for me. The agents don't want my masterpiece to be printed out, bound and sent to them to read in bed on a cold autumn day. Instead, I have to submit a synopsis and the first couple of chapters on line, then wait. And wait. And wait. Apparently it can take two months for them to read the ten thousand words, not because they're lazy but because they are inundated. It seems everyone in the world is writing novels. Who knew?

On Saturday I had the honour of presenting the annual conference for a charity I am involved with as patron. It was an emotional day with tear inducing stories and uplifting messages, but none more so than from Peter Bailey and his dad William. And a book was involved there too. 

Peter was diagnosed with a neurological disease called  Ataxia when he was twelve and, though he is now an adult, in a wheelchair and unable to communicate easily, Peter enrolled on a creative writing course and has just written his first book detailing his thoughts as a youngster on being sentenced to an incurable, progressively debilitating disease.

His dad Bill stood beside Peter's wheelchair on stage and read a chapter. There was not a dry eye on the house. The story was about the first Christmas after Peter's diagnosis when the twelve year old, on the threshold of his exciting teens, went out on the roof of the family home and heard Silent Night coming from a neighbour's house. Peter had sung it as a choir boy the night before at the Albert Hall and it hit him, standing in the cold wind, three stories up, that soon he would never be able to sing again.

His grandad came out and found him, fearing that Peter was about to jump. He threw his arms around him, saying nothing, just holding him and trying to make things better. This had remained a secret from the family until the book was written.

Now that's a great story, beautifully written and involving the reader in a way I could never even hope to get near. I bought it, and I recommend it to you. It's called Unseen Stars by Peter Bailey.

So my story about a Scottish detective sounds a bit trite and badly written next to this effort. I've been using the excuse of writing the book for all sorts of failures to keep in touch with people, or not doing the household chores, yet Peter has spent eleven years studying creative writing for a PhD degree.

If I were a literary agent inundated with new books of the standard of Unseen Stars, I don't suppose I would take up the offer of my book either.