Friday, September 28, 2007

Tempus Fugit

"To fill the hour - that is happiness." Ralph Waldo Emerson

It's a horrible feeling when you realise your limitations.

Youth is filled with ambition. To be rich. To be famous. To achieve amazing things. Sooner or later, though, youth is somewhat tempered by experience.

We realise that dreams of glory might be beyond our grasp. For every person who is famous - known and loved by many - there are thousands who are famous only to those who already know and love them.

We can't all be film stars or singers or presidents and prime ministers.

We can't even all be best selling novelists!

Sooner or later, you get to a point in life in which you realise that jumping for the stars has left you slightly winded - and still no closer to reaching them.

Like a dog chasing it's tail, ambition can fill you momentarily with energy and purpose - but ultimately it doesn't lead you anywhere.

This is something I've grown acutely aware of - especially when it comes to Adventure Eddy.

I've been writing adventure stories for well over a decade now. As I grow older - and the stories grow richer and better written - I realise that Adventure Eddy's exploits may never hit the bookshelves of Waterstones like I once envisaged they would.

There's the horrific possibility that my writing legacy might be confined to marketing copy and pompous articles on the Internet. I'll never be a bestselling writer!

So what is there to do?

What is a writer if nobody reads what he has written?

Well, I've been very lucky. Friends of mine - and friends of friends of mine - have chosen to read Adventure Eddy. For all the book's current limitations, it's incredibly empowering to know you've shared this make-believe world with somebody.

The question is: Is it worth writing these stories if they'll never be published?

Part of me thinks that it is.

People have hobbies, don't they? They paint, or draw, or do jigsaws and crosswords. Maybe I should consider writing more like that. Something rewarding and worthwhile for it's own reasons - for what it means to me - rather than for what I hope it will achieve.

With the wonders of things like Lulu, it's entirely possible for me to fill a bookshelf with beautifully printed copies of Adventure Eddy's exploits. Even if nobody ever reads them, they'll be there, preserved for as long as the paper lasts and the glue keeps the pages bound.

Maybe I could print a copy and leave it on a bench or a bus, after signing it up to Bookcrossings. With the wonders of the Internet, people who find and read an abandoned book can 'report' picking it up and let the original owner know where it's gone and who's enjoyed it.

Ultimately, isn't it as rewarding for one person to read your book and enjoy it as a hundred? Or a million?

I've very little basis for comparison!

What I do have is a dozen stories tangled up inside my head. I have now come to accept that I might never make my fortune as a novelist - but I would still like to commit these stories to paper. The very act of writing and expressing emotions and memories is rewarding in and of itself. It's like therapy - or more accurately like medieval 'bleeding.' Pouring the thoughts out of your head before they turn stagnant!

I should do it. I should just write for the hell of it. So no crosswords for me. No sudoku. No more sitting in front of whatever crap it is on TV (although I'll make exceptions for The Colbert Report, House and Dr Who.) Just as Tina has her cross stitch and father has his painting, I will embrace my passion without the limitations of ambition.

At least I know I can write. I mean, that's what I do for a living. I get paid for my ability with words. So if my writing career has never taken off, it's not because I'm a bad writer.

And maybe, if I write only for myself instead of trying to appeal to an audience, my books will be interesting - or at least more personal.

It's quite liberating, really.

Here are some stories I want to write:

Bootleg Boys - the Adventure Eddy story about bootlegged beer is nearly finished! I want to write the rest of it so badly!

God Squad - it's like 'Torchwood' - except instead of aliens, my high-tech troubleshooting team deal with 'extra-Biblical cryptozoological entities' like unicorns, vampires and dragons. Oh, and most of them are heavily armed priests. It's basically fantasy/horror/sci-fi comedy for the Di Vinci Code generation.

The Price of Freedom - based on a 'Movies' plot I wrote, it's the story of a British national arrested for 'terrorism' by a corrupt sheriff in the middle of Pennsylvania. The embassy troubleshooter known as 'British Bulldog' must take charge of this 'captive' and get to the bottom of the trumped-up charges. It's basically a western set east of the Mississippi with an interesting take on the whole War on Terror thing.

Kidd Rockson - a crime novel. When a promising African-American student is gunned down by the county police for packing a gun, most people dismiss it as an unfortunate gang-related incident. But even though the cops have been exonerated, the student's girlfriend claims his death was murder. The only man desperate enough to believe her is down-on-his luck private detective Kidd Rockson.

Ginger Jihad - this one will be fun. It's 2046 and Europe is aflame. Fundamentalist Muslims and the Russian army have painted the map red. Fortress America has long abandoned it's foreign adventures in Europe and the middle east, so only Britain stands and - from the look of the besieged island - not for long. Then American astronauts discover an amazing thing. The perfectly preserved body of 1950's test pilot 'Big Ginger' orbiting the earth. This WWII vet is thawed out by the desperate British government. Can a pip-pip, tally-ho fighter pilot really be Britain's last and only hope?

Captain Albion - the world's first superhero is from England! This mysterious crime-fighter has the tabloids in a storm and Britain swept up in a wave of patriotism. But when the superhero's actions clash with the British government's plans, the Prime Minister sets out to deal with this uncooperative menace. Meanwhile, an ambitious young reporter searches to uncover the 'real' identity of Captain Albion herself. The explosive climax features America's own 'nuclear powered' superhero arriving to confront Britain's finest.

The Wedding Story / Black Dog - two previously finished adventure Eddy stories need to be 'retconned' to match Eddy's slightly altered origins.

Operation Mycroft - whatever DID happen to Adventure Eddy's missing brother? When Mi5 and the CIA start demanding answers, Eddy sets out to find out. A good old fashioned adventure story with car chases, romance, beautiful women, a villainous villain and it's all set in France which is AWESOME.

The Widow of Winchester - Winchester's new mayor is making sweeping changes. Are his twenty-first century ambitions linked to a mysterious gang of 'vampires' who are chasing out his political and financial rivals? Adventure Eddy sets out to prove that there are 'no such things as vampires.'

The Silver Relic - I've already written this one about five times. But this time it'll have one of those things.... oh, what's it called? That's it! A plot! Anyway. It's a story about one of those old Mercedes Benz Silver Arrow racing cars and the murderous lengths unscrupulous people will go to get one. Amazingly, it's (very, very loosely) based on a true story!

The Island Affair - finally - FINALLY - the story about how Adventure Eddy wound up on Tresco and what he did there. Expect high adventure on the high seas, a devious criminal mastermind and a bit with a dog. And unlike Adventure Eddy, there really WILL be a bit with a dog in this one. The dog is called Fido.

Adventure Eddy in New York - Sooner or later, it had to happen. Is Eddy's ambition to 'clean up' the city going to get him killed? Oh, what fun this story will be. Beautiful women. Deadly bad guys. All the sights, sounds, smells of New York city sandwiched in an adventure story. I can't wait!

Yes, as you can see, I have a lot of work ahead of me. SO MANY stories to write. Now I just need to sit my arse down and actually do it.

Well, the winter months are coming up. Now is as good a time to start as any.

And whatever you think of my silly writing ambitions - even you have to admit it's more productive than a jigsaw.

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