I was faced with a choice: use the excruciatingly technical and highly regarded degree to forge a successful career and have 99 problems, but money, not being one or ludicrously do the opposite. Throw away the last four years of agonising, tortuous blood, sweat and tears, and success to become a living, breathing cliché and chase my dreams! Follow my passion… blah, blah, blah.
I am actually laughing out loud while writing this. Let’s just put it this way, I’m glad I did it when I was younger – I wouldn’t have the balls or the energy to do it now! I am what many would refer to as a millennial. This means that I had to ignore all sound advice and reason and follow my creative ambitions knowing that I would face financial ruin, unbearable pain and humiliating rejection. And like some ferocious, relentless adrenaline junkie, I would love every moment of it. I would become unhinged and obsessed with creating marvellous things without caring whether anyone else appreciated them or not. Because if I didn’t, I would die!
Well, that’s how I felt at the time, anyway.
With this ‘want it as much as you want to breathe’ mentality and tainted with a level of overlooked entitlement, I wrote my first novel, which was what I can only describe as a complete and utter disaster.
I soon realised that writing has two key components: one was the art of storytelling. I was pretty good at this, just ask my old school teachers about how creative my stories for not doing my homework were – in fact, they were so good that I believe children are still using them now.
The second was the art and skill of writing itself. That, I had no bloody idea about! Writing is a craft that needs to be learned and obsessively practised. I did incredibly well in my English exams in school, and I loved reading – this gave me the arrogance to think I was just going to put pen to paper, and the words were going magically transform into the next bestselling book. One that would have publishers fighting each other for, then go on to sell millions of copies worldwide, be translated into every language on earth and numerous languages spoken by life forms on other planets.
Let’s just say I was slightly off the mark in my assumption.
It took many gruelling years of learning and hundreds of thousands of words written and then ruthlessly deleted before I wrote anything worth reading.
For me, becoming a writer was certainly not easy, but not being a writer was damn near impossible.