I’ve always loved to read. It’s fed my love for how language and communication are structured; and for how people shape this structure.
Solving crossword puzzles – straight or cryptic – sharpened my grasp of synonyms and shades of meaning, so I became more confident that my great unpublished novel would avoid blandness, repetition and predictability. I just knew that readers would keep turning its pages: lured and fulfilled by their variety, their subtle nuances and their depth.
The desire to give birth to my own classic was enhanced as I learned to read on two simultaneous levels while exploring other classics and modern writers.
It became a pleasure to accept skilled authors’ invitations to walk around within their pages and live their novels with them. Coming to the last page in some of their series had become like reluctantly bidding farewell to old friends.
Yet underlying that pleasure was the extra thrill of detecting how they’d placed and developed their characters to shaped their stories. I also recognised how they could reveal their subtle or blatant research: within conversations; by quoting official notices from fictitious organisations; or by introducing “nerd like” characters that arrived solely to add technical information or analyses that the main protagonists could not embrace or embody without stretching credibility too far.
These wordsmiths could make their pages come to life through clear descriptions or inferences of weather, of seasons or of sounds. And by tracing emotions and mood swings, and by depicting the colour and speed of how their characters moved or conflicted with each other, they added flesh and blood tothier ideas
And I just knew that my turn to join their ranks was imminent...
To ensure professionalism and clarity I invested in a new laptop and kept a notepad with me at all times, so those “Aha!” moments would not be lost.
Clearing my calendar of all extraneous involvements, I buried myself and all my extra spare time into producing something that no-one in their right mind would ever put down.
It took five months of losing myself in recording, revising, reflecting and reworking until I had all nine hundred and fifty pages complete: a masterpiece of history, romance, politics, action, analysis, philosophy and suspense. I also included just enough humour to break the tension for readers who could otherwise be lost forever to their everyday world and their need to make a living.
Make way Leo Tolstoy! And you too, Charles Dickens, John Grisham, Ian Fleming, Bryce Courtenay, Jane Austen, Ralph Waldo Emerson and Henry Wadsworth Longfellow! There’s a new kid moving into your neighbourhood!
Knowing that no backyard amateurs would be worthy of me or of my magnum opus, I listed the addresses of ten international publishing houses.
I also cleared my diary and began surfing the net for best options in international travel and accommodation. Responding to one of those inspired moments - the kind that arrive complete with the sweet strains of angelic choirs - I also invested in a book of foreign phrases. After all, since my best-seller would take me all over the world for signing sessions, I wanted to maintain the common touch.
With a wildly-beating heart, I left the courier-service depot, pleased that I’d responded to an extra impulse. Out of concern for the future career of my editor, lest he not recognise the window of opportunity that lay on his desk, I’d clipped a brief, polite note to my preface page: “Please let me know of your decision as early as possible, as I have other irons in the fire.”
You can imagine how my excitement soared when I opened my inbox two days later to find his email: “Thank you for your courteous note and for taking the trouble to offer me your manuscript.”
Until I read his next sentence: “Please place it in with your other irons.”
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