Blog 1: Lucky f*#ker

Posted By Alastair Gunn on Sep 10, 2013 | 0 comments


Right. My first blog.  Not really sure how this works, but let’s see what happens…

It’s 8:49 p.m. on Wednesday the 4th of September 2013. I’m in my sitting room, Celebrity MasterChef is paused on the TV (because my other half’s on the phone), and I’m trying to write something for the blogging section on my revamped website (it seemed like a good idea when I asked the web design company to include one). Only problem is: now I have to fill it.

So, what to write about…?

Okay, I’ve just been off and read a few other blogs (sensing my inexperience yet?). They’re all pretty informal, anyway, which is good considering what I’ve written so far. The other thing blogs seem to have in common is that they’re very much ‘of the moment’ as far as the bloggers themselves are concerned. So, as this website is about my writing career, perhaps I should tell you where things are currently, book-wise.

Right now life’s pretty hectic, although fortunately I’m the sort of person who finishes what they start, because as far as I’ve come, there’s still no guarantee this writing thing’s going to pay off. It’s taken me eight years to get from a few ideas to where I am now (i.e. on the verge of having my first novel published). But it could still turn out to have been all for nothing if The Advent Killer flops.

Please don’t think that means I’d be disappointed if it didn’t sell. I realise I’ve beaten huge odds in getting a book taken on by a publisher like Penguin in the first place. But, as I can tell you from (growing) experience, at no stage can you sit back and relax. Getting a publishing deal is bloody hard work, but it’s just the start.

Getting a contract was never a given, so I didn’t spend much time, prior to signing, thinking about what I’d have to do afterwards. Since the deal was done, I’ve spent weeks revising and improving the book, then weeks revising and improving it again, weeks more sorting out this website, plus my Twitter account and Facebook author page. Then there were proofs to approve, and web page headers to create. (And did I mention that I have a full time job, as well?). Yet the more I do, the more I realise I could be doing.

Now we’re less than three months from launch, and I have to start thinking about marketing, too. I (very happily) agreed to be involved in a promotion with the Crime Writer’s Association and Specsavers, to write a novella in the last two weeks of September. Plus the more interviews, articles, and (hopefully) book signings I can do, the better. However, all this stuff is taking time away from what I naively thought would be my one and only focus: writing book 2.

And so far, all the ‘becoming a published writer’ clichés are 100% correct. I went from worrying about whether I could write a whole book, to scaring myself about whether my ‘finished’ novel was good enough to be published, to looking around at other debut authors and seeing only their strengths. Now I’m afraid that Hawkins 1 won’t sell, and that I’ll flounder half way through Hawkins 2. And what if that’s it: what if I’ve already exhausted the meagre stock of decent stories wedged in the isolated crevices of my brain?

You get the picture.

But I’ve made it this far, right? And the same work ethic that got me to the end of Hawkins 1 will get me to the end of Hawkins 2. Thanks to the very talkative man sitting next to me on a recent flight, I had a decent idea (at long last) for Hawkins 3. And after that, I have plots for a good few books in adjacent genres that I’m dying to write. Still, I shouldn’t get ahead of myself. Let’s enjoy the ride.

And for me, the true moment of delivery on eight years of hard work is still to come. It wasn’t putting the final word to what I now realise was the first draft, or signing the contract with my agent, or even the phone call telling me the publisher wanted to take on my book (great though all those moments were). Holding the first copy will be pretty special, too. But I suspect this whole thing will only feel truly real the first time I walk into a book shop and see my novel on the shelf. Properly. For sale.

At that moment I hope my fiancée, Anna, will block me into a corner until the stupid grin, and the overwhelming desire to lecture proximate strangers (on the virtues of following your dreams), abate.

So do I mind sitting here at all hours, doing things most people would consider ‘work’? Of course I bloody don’t. Because, as the saying goes, the harder I work, the luckier I get. And right now, with The Advent Killer only a few months from publication, pretty f*#king lucky’s how I feel.

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