Thursday, August 21, 2008

The Price of Ambition

I would like to live in a farmhouse in the country.

I think it's a very worthwhile ambition. I just have to work out how exactly I can make it happen.

This picture above shows exactly the kind of place I'd like to live in. An old American farmhouse in New England (in this example, upstate New York.) Somewhere with trees and rivers and those beautiful slate-grey mountains that make the rural wilderness north of New York city so beautiful.

I like the idea of having my stupid old car in a barn, so I can tinker with it. I like the idea of Tina pottering around with arts and crafts in a downstairs studio. I can imagine the old fashioned kitchen, with it's wood-fired range that crackles comfortingly in winter (and has a couple of Dachshunds lazing in front of it.)

It would be great for Martin to grow up with woods and fields to explore. Maybe we could have a horse. A little stream or river to go fishing on. I'd buy him a sheepdog, since I swear I was never fitter than when my parent's dog Tig used to take me on long voyages through the Cornish countryside.

This is a warm and cuddly dream and maybe, one day, I'll achieve it (like I eventually managed to get myself to America.)

But the question is: How?

Now the problem with my generation - brought up on a diet of non-celebrities like Jade Goody - is that we all feel that we're entitled to our dreams without actually having to do anything to deserve them. Jade Goody, for example, was rewarded with fame, TV shows, lucrative endorsement contracts and millions of quid purely for being a thick-as-pigshit, hideously ugly, racist, ignorant chav.

No, I've evolved enough to realise that I'm going to have to do something to achieve this ambition. Now, I'd like to imagine I could do this by writing. I can just imagine getting a successful series of books published, which gives me an excuse to buy a remote farmhouse and type away in my study in the tranquility of the upstate backwoods (while Martin plays outside and Tina makes pottery downstairs.)

I'd be like one of the typical protagonists in a Stephen King novel, except my farmhouse wouldn't be in Maine and hopefully the walls wouldn't start bleeding and the ghost of my cojoined twin/murdered black woman/half demonic hellspawn wouldn't attempt to murder me and steal my soul.

The problems with this dream are:
  1. The chances of me getting a book published are, I think we've estimated, 1 in 500.
  2. The chances of that book being successful are probably about the same.
  3. In fact, the odds are more likely to land me a murderous cojoined twin/murdered black woman/half demonic hellspawn than a publishing contract.

There are some things I can do to improve my odds, though.

I can actually finish what I start writing. So far, I've got 30,000 words into a wacky spy thriller, 9,000 words into a Gothic horror adventure, 2,000 words into a gritty spy thriller (notice a pattern) and I've got a fully completed book, The Bootleg Boys (which received a thumbs up from Saint Club chairman Ian Dickerson) and I've not sent it out to anybody. I need to finish what I've started!

I can continue to improve my writing. Although I haven't written anything fictional in, like, a year - I have learnt a huge amount (I might write about this later.)

I can quit wasting time - abandon the unsellable writing projects, focus on what I can achieve and possibly even tone down the blogging. I need to write more targeted articles and essays and send them out to see if I can get them published (I've got two things in print this year, Woot! Woot! Why not continue the trend?)

All in all, I think the major thing I need to do is get focused and organised. Energy and enthusiasm are useless unless they're pointed in a particular direction (otherwise, you're just spinning your wheels.)

I've set myself this ambition. Now it's time to get out there and achieve it.


Dina Burgess said...

Can I be your 'Number One Fan'?

And when you get your perfect home, can I be the mad woman in the attic? I do a great impression of the ghost in The Grudge.

Fab blog btw.

The Chemist said...

Eeeeexcellent [/Mr.Burns]

If you ever need someone to proofread or otherwise free your mind I'm your man.

I have ambitions to write some books myself, at least one of which being an accessible, but scientifically accurate science fiction novel. The others are awesome too. I'm still a chemist in training, so I have an excuse. You on the other hand, may very well not have a great excuse for still talking about writing a book rather than buckling down.

(BTW, If you are reading this comment and have not yet written a single page since posting, you need to get of your butt!)

I highly recommend the book, "How to Write a DAMN Good Novel." It won't teach so much how to write than teach you how to avoid common pitfalls and stay organized and motivated. I also highly recommend this page.

Hell, if it's your dream I'll cheer you on. Why not?

PQG said...

Yesyesyes please finish the damn books! It will put a stop to all your ahistorical writing about the recent events in Russia and Georgia. :-)

Miss Caught Up said...

I want to read your books! I would like to write a book some day, but... I don't know. My thoughts are always so jumbled.

paisley penguin said...

Just found your blog and really like your writing style. I have started a few books myself and have (in my huble opinion) a GREAT idea for a screenplay. Fresh off the set (well a year ago) of an indie film where I produced and did the costuming I am ready to try my hand at a screenplay or at least a treatment - baby steps please.

Anyway - write darn it.


PS - I like your cabin in the woods. I want one in the woods near a lake.

La Pixie said...

I love reading murder mysteries, but nothing too sexy. I mean, sexy is okay, but not in a good mystery. okay [/tangent].

anyway, you could have a farm in the city, you know. my parents have one. just a couple horses, lots of goats, a few sheep, a TON of chickens, some geese, and the requisite dog. oh, and some peacocks. and lots of turkeys. see, anythings possible! =)

April said...

I'll buy your books. Hell, I'll even read them. And I'll make all my friends go out and buy them too. You can come speak at our book club if you're not too fancy shmancy and big for your britches. And I know lots of people. Plus I kick ass at PR. So I think your odds of being successful just increased slightly. You are welcome, my friend.

Expatmum said...

I'm always amazed by the amount of people who say they have a book "on the go". You've hit the nail on the head - just get on with it. There's nothing special about me I can assure you, but I managed to get one published. The fact that number two isn't on the press yet is that I haven't pulled my finger sufficiently far out enough.
I love the house - until I realised that you have to get in a car and drive for everything you need. Not to mention playdates for the kids. I don't suppose many grocery companies deliver that far out?

Hoppy Uniatz said...

Ha...I know just how you feel. After all the Charteris biography has been in the works for oh...over a decade (hey, I know marriage and kids is a good excuse, but still...).

But I think there's a lot in the timing. I recently pulled my finger out and am focused on finishing 3 of the many projects I have on the go...and there's suddenly professional interest in them. And since the Tv show's stalled for the time being the interest seems to be based solely on my submissions, which is a really frightening thought.

Keep at it. You'll get there.