I’ve wanted to write for a long time. I don’t know how long, but for long enough that I can’t remember a time when I didn’t think about writing.
I worked in the Croxton Park Hotel straight out of university. I started off as a bottle shop attendant. We opened at 8am, and even though I was employed as a casual, I often worked twelve to fourteen hour shifts, sometimes six days a week (as a side note, the hotel chain I worked for eventually went broke…no wonder when they were paying casuals to work ).
We didn’t get much business. There was the early morning ‘rush’ when shift workers and assorted alcoholics rushed in to get their days supply.
We had one gentleman who would drive in a well kept old FJ Holden, wearing a suite and tie and a bowler hat. Every morning he would buy a 150ml of Tolleys Brandy.
No matter how often I tried, I couldn’t convince him to buy a 750ml. Because, he said, if he bought a 750ml he might drink more than two glasses…and that would make him an alcoholic. I guess he knew he lacked the discipline to only have two glasses a day. So he had a routine that worked for him. Still….
But other than the regulars, there was a lot of spare time during the day. There was only so much time I could spend sweeping the driveway, straightening bottles and unpacking pallets of beer. So I day dreamed about my writing.
The pub seemed a perfect environment for an aspiring write. In fact the Pub WAS a perfect environment for a writer and not for the reasons that might appeal to James Joyce.
So I day dreamed about the stories I would write, the characters I would fill them with, and the events that would be inspired by my time in the pub.
So I watched. I took notes. I think in my two years working at that hotel I wrote one proper story. Sufficiently mature as a story that I entered it into The Age Short Story Competition. The story was called ‘Surfing the VFT’. I can’t say its very good, although I did get feedback, which said my style was ‘reminiscent of Joseph Conrad.’ I didn’t know his work then. Now I’m a huge fan.
Later in life, I would work 500 metres from the wreck of Otago, the ship that Joeseph Conrad captained when he wrote some his best work, and at lunch time I would run past its rusting hulk, reminded that even the Captain 1800’s steamer had time to write what would become classics….and English wasn’t even his first language!
Anyway, suffice to say, in all that time, I only wrote one 3000 word story. Oh, but the ideas I collected.
As the years rolled on, I had other fits and starts. I wrote some more short stories, in my head wrote, and forgot novels, and wrote many ‘snippets’ and draft scenes. I spent time organising and recording (and losing) much of it. Because one day I was going to get the time to write again.
So this brings me to the original point of this post (yes I had one!). What does it take to write? How about words on a paper? How about ‘Just Do It’.
Characterization, plot, story, organisation, formatting,that can come later.
I’ve tried setting a target. 1000 Words a day. I can bang that out in an hour. But an hour isn’t always easy to find, and its always easy to put it off.
So I’m starting smaller. On the I Should Be Writing podcast, I heard an interview with an author who wrote a novel by writing 100 words a day. That is easy. People send SMSs longer than that whilst driving (or from Facebook on their dashboard)
So thats my target. Except, perhaps in honor of the gentleman in the FJ so many years ago, I’ll make it 150 words. No binge writing for me, although if I do find that I start to creep the word count up to 750 a day, I won’t feel like I’m an alcoholic.
This blog post was my first attempt. I don’t pretend that its worthy post for anyone else to read, but I set out to write my 150 words…and what do you know, its at 750.
I’ll raise a glass to you,the brandy sipping gentleman from my distant past! You may appear in a novel of mine yet!