Impromptu night out in Stowmarket

Plan A was to go to the pub I’ve been doing a few shifts at recently and relax by playing a few games of pool by myself. Of course, nothing ever ends up being plan A. If I was on plan A of my life I would be an accountant by now, with a wife and 2.4 children generally doing what society keeps telling me what I should be doing…

When I got there the pool table was taken, so I patiently waited at the bar sipping my vodka and lemonade, not looking over because I thought that would be rude. Instead choosing to chat away with my boss.

After about five minutes one of the girls I work behind the bar with came over. Turns out it was her and her boyfriend by the pool table and I hadn’t clocked on. So she invited me over and asked if I wanted to join in and play pool with them. I didn’t need asking twice…

A few games of pool, several drinks and a good old chinwag later they asked if I wanted to go down the road with them to another bar. I said I couldn’t because I was only out for one and didn’t have a key to get in. Then I thought to myself I could always go back, get the key and head back out so I didn’t disturb anyone when I came back.

Half an hour later I drunkenly stumbled over to ‘The Mill’, which is another bar just by the train station. Then I went to the bar and ordered myself a drink. The girl behind the bar smiled at me as she served me. It could have been the same smile she had flashed at everyone all night, as it is her job to be friendly, nonetheless it improved my confidence that has been ridiculously fragile since I’ve been back, and the three of us (me, the girl I worked with and her boyfriend) went upstairs to the sitting area and played a few more games of pool whilst getting to know each other better. Then at about 11:30 we all called it a night and went back home.

It wasn’t exactly as lively as some of my crazy nights out in Thailand (some are on my blog, others I’d rather not write about in case I get in some kind of trouble. But I’m sure you can imagine the kind of things we got up to…), but it was nice to get out and feel human again. I met some nice people that could be friends in the long run. I’m not travelling right now, but the main reason people travel is to see new things and meet new people. Stowmarket is a beautiful place, and I’m starting to get to know a whole new group of people that I would have never met otherwise. Just like when I lived in Toddington and Torquay.

I don’t know how long I’m going to be here, but it seems like a nice community and hopefully I’ll meet a lot more people just like this before I leave, whenever that will be…

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People scare me sometimes…

I did another shift behind the bar on Friday night and as soon as I got there there was a girl by the bar who looked at me and shouted “ASDAAAAAAAA!!!!!!!” Turns out it was this girl in her early twenties who serves me every time I go there. I genuinely didn’t know how to react. I wonder how fun life would be if we all just simply shouted at people where we worked or where we had seen them last…

£50,000 writing competition

I was holding my nephew whilst idly watching the TV wondering what I should do next month if things didn’t go to plan and suddenly a writing competition popped up on Richard and Judy. I listened intently as they went through the details of the competition. Basically they had run this competition before and felt it was so successful that they were willing to do it again. The plan was to look for the next big writer. Someone that was undiscovered but could take the writing world by storm.

I was mesmerized by it. It was like the TV show was actively calling me to enter this competition. I’m a very shy person and tend to be harder on myself than I should be at times, but I genuinely felt I could win this competition. I listened to the requirements and assumed that I couldn’t submit any of my books I had already published as e-books as they where looking for something new and unpublished, so after a minute or so debating on which book to send, I decided on ‘Talk To Me’, which is all but finished.

I went upstairs to find out that I couldn’t open the finished file on my new laptop as the file was corrupted for some reason. Luckily I remembered that I had sent an email to myself of the finished product just in case something like this occurred, and I was back in business.

I then spent 3 1/2 hours re-editing the file and adding bits here and there to add slightly more depth to the story. After that I decided to look at the terms and conditions, which stated the book had to be a minimum of 80,000 words in length.

‘Talk To Me’ is only around 57,000 words, so I felt that rather than messing with the integrity of that story just to meet their criteria, I would submit my 6th book ‘The Pornstar’, which I have deliberately not talked about in detail on my blog in case it would affect a publishing deal further down the road (Unlike the others where I have the blurb and the first few paragraphs for free on my blog). Also this book is over 110,000 words even though it is only in the first draft stage, so it felt natural to submit that book as I knew they would go crazy for it and it would give me an even stronger chance of winning.

Unfortunately for me when I reread the terms and conditions I saw in one stipulation that the author entering the competition must not have published anything in any format.

I felt gutted, because I self published my books when I was younger naively believing that because I didn’t have a writing or an English literature degree that no publisher would want to touch me, and because of this technicality I wouldn’t be able to have a chance at going through a real publisher, and of course the £50,000 publishing deal would have been nice too…

So I emailed them for clarification, more in hope than expectation, that I may have misunderstood the rules and in fact what they meant was if you had been published through a proper publisher. I felt it couldn’t hurt to ask.

But this morning I received an email from stating that I was in fact ineligible. It’s a shame but this means I will have to push ‘Talk To Me’ myself, and start contacting publishers about ‘The Pornstar’ once I understand how to do so. In any case I wish the rest of the participants good luck. It’s a shame I won’t get to mix with people who are in the same position as me and in effect go up against them, but it’s not my time yet. I just need to be patient, keep churning out high quality material and someday my time will come. I just have to have faith…

Writing job interview

I have been applying for many jobs recently. One of the jobs that really caught my eye was a job as a travel writer for a company based in London but writes about all places around the world. I sent them my CV and a cover letter explaining why I would be suitable for the job. Even though I put my heart into it I didn’t expect to hear anything back due to the fact I have never studied any form of writing before.

Despite this I received an email that same day from a lady asking if I wanted to arrange an interview. I was ecstatic because this is something I really enjoy doing, and if someone is willing to pay me to do that then life would be pretty legendary for me…

I answered the phone for the interview and she introduced herself and asked about my writing background, my books and why I would like to work for that company. I can’t remember the last time I spoke so passionately about something. I’m normally really passionate when I’m talking about my books but when I lost my confidence the passion tended to die as well (quick update: I’m pleased to report that my confidence has skyrocketed over the past week. I’m not 100% but I’m definitely starting to feel back to normal again for the first time in over a year)

I was obviously slightly nervous because it was an interview situation, but overall I felt I did well solely by the fact I showed my enthusiasm for travel and writing. I also felt the interview questions were far easier to answer than I thought due to them being about something I enjoyed and a job that I genuinely wanted to do.

The bad news is that this particular job was in London. More specifically, Kensington. And I had massively misjudged how much is was going to cost to get the train into London every day. Lets put it this way; I would have been spending more than half of my wages on train tickets, even if I got a monthly pass…

I immediately emailed the lady when I saw this and told her that although I would love to work there, financially I wouldn’t be able to make it happen. I thanked her for her time and asked if she would consider me in the future if a job came up in the future that would not cost me hundreds of pounds a week on travel alone. She seemed really nice and from what I can gather from the way she talked about the other staff it was a close knit environment where people genuinely enjoyed each others company.

So I’m afraid I won’t be working as a travel writer in the near future. It’s a shame but I’m a firm believer that things happen (or don’t happen) for a reason and I wasn’t meant to do that job right now.

How the TV show ‘Bad Girls’ helped my writing…

A couple of days ago I came across the TV show ‘Bad Girls’ for the first time and it did exactly what every TV show – or every book for that matter – should do; it enticed me in a matter of seconds. Most people won’t watch or read something for hours in the hope it will interest them further down the road. There should be something that makes you think “Hmm… I want to keep watching/reading this…”

However as a viewer who had no connection with the show I did find a couple of things that peeved me, which I instantly saw was wrong in my writing and in turn helped me connect with the average person even more.

The first thing was that there were two leading male parts, both of whom were prison wardens and they looked very similar at first glance. I didn’t even realise until 30 minutes in when they were speaking to each other that they were actually different people! This of course made it very difficult to follow the sub-plots between the two characters when I didn’t know who was who. Of course the more you watch a show you notice different mannerisms and characteristics, not to mention slight facial features, hairlines etc… that separate the two. But in the meantime I found it frustrating, and thought they should be instantly recognisable. This directly affected one of my books because in my unpublished book ‘The Pornstar’ (which because I will be searching for publishers in the future, I am being deliberately vague about to not affect a publishing deal in any way) I have two characters with very similar names. They look very different and their characters are not similar in any way, but I soon realised that the reader may get confused due to the similar spelling of their names, especially when they interact with each other, and I soon realised the importance of having distinctively different names. After all, just because I know the difference doesn’t mean everybody else can follow it.

The second part was there was a scene where Rebecca Hazlewood (Who is a VERY underrated actress in my opinion) was playing a man born in a woman’s body, and subsequently had had surgery to become a woman and was now in a women’s prison. She confessed to a nun that she was born a man and said the words “I was born with a penis” during her ‘confession’.

Hearing a woman say the word ‘penis’ sounds unnatural and cringeworthy, I don’t know why but it just does, and I didn’t realise this until I heard it come from a woman. To be fair, why would I? ‘The Pornstar’, like most of my books, is written in the first person and the main character is female. Being a book about porn I say many variations of the words penis and vagina, mainly so it doesn’t sound monotonous. I had a friend of mine read the first draft and she said that a woman – especially in that industry – would never use the word ‘penis’. I took it with a pinch of salt (I realised as I typed that how disgusting that sounded…) and left it in anyway. Now that I’ve heard the word come from a female I have to apologize to my friend and say “You were 100% right” and now I have to go and change all the words that say ‘penis’ to something more vulgar, I assume. I haven’t been in character for months and probably won’t know what to say until I get back into character…

Despite my criticisms, I did really enjoy the show. I’d heard of the show before but had never thought to watch it. If you are a writer I would recommend it due to the gripping storylines and the depth in their sub-plots. It would give you an idea how to keep many characters relevant at the same time without the book droning on and on…