Someone bought me a journal for 2012 with a blank page for every day. I had been filling in such journals for many years until a couple of years ago, when I asked for hardcover notebooks without a date on every page because I was getting behind (and bored with the daily recording of my life) and most of my ‘warm-up’ writing started to go here on this blog. This morning, getting behind as usual, I waffled on back-filling empty pages and, while doing so, realized something: I’ve now been self-employed for 25 years. When I muttered something about this Caroline said, ‘Where’s it all gone?’ but I don’t feel like that. The last 25 years have been quite eventful.
Throughout all this I was writing of course, working my way up the small press ladder, taking an English A-level to prove a point just to myself, and gradually becoming more successful. I ran my own business cutting both domestic and council grass, cutting hedges, trees, laying concrete, building fences, repointing houses … the list is a long one. I occasionally worked for builders, delivered coal and skips, did bar work, rebuilt and sold a few motorbikes and cars. I met Caroline and moved into her flat (I wrote The Skinner in my first year there) and we then moved together to a bungalow (I have to wonder what people thought of the Sherpa truck parked outside) and then, in 1999-2000 by synopsis and sample chapters of Gridlinked hit at Macmillan.
I continued with the grass-cutting etc. for another year (or two?) then went over fully to writing. Since then we’ve bought a house in Crete, and I did a lot of work on it myself. I’ve had about 20 books published, now live in Crete for 7 months of the year and have had both enjoyable and traumatic experiences throughout the whole process.
Looking back to ’87 I see that figure in some woodland in the pissing rain cutting up fallen branches with a bow-saw. He just had no idea…