This Writing Journey

Then and Now

My book did the rounds of family (well, my brother, and a handful of cousins). One cousin gave it to his fantasy-loving friend who declared it one of the best fantasy books he’d ever read. I don’t know if he was humouring my cousin, if he was clueless, or if the praise was genuine (most writers I know often doubt praise), but it encouraged me to get back into writing.

The other reason was I was just empty without it. And purposeless. After terrifying anxiety, the dread I might be losing my mind (thanks, Dr. Fuckwit), and a general feeling of inadequacy, the world was too scary to confront. But not writing. Writing was the one place I felt home.

Coinciding with this was my brother buying a PC through work. PCs hadn’t become home computers yet – they were luxury items. Home computers were things like the Commodore Amiga – computers that were designed to be gaming systems. And this was before console gaming really kicked off.

A PC with a word processor (MultiMate II, which, to this date, still has the best Thesaurus I’ve seen) was a powerful tool to employ, and it beckoned me: I’d handwritten my novel, I’d knocked it out on a typewriter, and so a computer was the next logical step. Also, I thought about all the errors in the typewritten draft, and the value of having the book as a file.

When I told Dr. Fuckwit, he was dubious and asked to see my book, so I brought it in for my next appointment. I don’t know what he was looking for as he flicked through the pages – maybe proof I wasn’t entirely deluded, and that I was tackling this professionally (or at least attempting to within the parameters of professionalism as I knew it). He said nothing more about it.

So here I was.


The second map — much neater and more detailed than the first.

I drew a new map, a bigger map, and stuck it on the wall.

Then I got down to writing.

Or rewriting.

And what filled me as I wrote, or what refilled me, was passion. I might’ve been mindlessly zealous, I might’ve been naïve, but at least I had a reason I wanted to wake up.

At night, I would scribble supporting material in various notebooks – histories, monarchies, languages, characters’ lineage, et al, etc.

In doing all that, the story evolved, until I could see this whole universe. I could see the past and the present. It was existing everywhere at once and tapping not only into my imagination, but funnelling into some subconscious repository that revealed information to me as necessary.

I also had this virginal expectation that this book would be published, and I’d write the whole series, and the series around it. It was this infallible belief that was born out of ignorance, but it was beautiful because it existed in this pristine environment where all things were (and are) possible.

Fast forward to now – and I’ll just preface that I don’t write what’s to follow (below) self-pityingly.

This just is: the facts.

You get published, your books underperform, you get shit-canned (sometimes, and I want to make that clear that it’s only sometimes, by clueless morons who are upset because your story is not the story they expected, which would be like me going to see Titanic, and complaining that it wasn’t some gritty exploration of the stokers and their grim fate, but about a mindless love triangle), and you wonder if you’re any good, and query what’s meant to come next, because everything to this point has been underwhelming.

And there remains a sense of proportion. I don’t think I’m the greatest writer ever, or even anywhere near the top. I have writer friends whose writing and work I envy, and lament I’ll never get anywhere near their quality. But you think that, at the very least, you’re adequate.

Only you sink.

Into inadequacy.


It’s like learning bricks don’t float.

Eventually, you wonder what’s the fucking point of it all.