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Sep 11
We have just come back from our second annual writers’ retreat at the beach. It was great.
Actually, there is an important distinction between this year and last year. Last year, it was a writing retreat. This year it is a writers’ retreat. See the difference? Last year we came to write. It was the first time we had organised anything like this and we made an effort to make it worthwhile. We put aside hours to write, we had discussions, we read each other’s stuff and talked about it.
This time it wasn’t quite the same. Basically we went to the beach. But because we are all writers we were able to call it a writers’ retreat. There was nothing organised.
I am firing away with the second draft of my World Cup book and I was hoping to get some work done on that. I got less accomplished than I had hoped thanks to a broken laptop, but I did get plenty of other writing course work done. Just not work on my book.
But it was fun as always, three nights in a beautiful condo overlooking Pensacola Beach. I didn’t get to watch Chelsea play on Saturday but you can’t have everything.
I did also get some work done on planning for my trip home. Next week I’m headed across the Pond, and in a strange turn of events I’m going to be in England longer than I’m going to be in Northern Ireland. Visiting friends, watching Chelsea… I’m really looking forward to it. I will get to go home as well and see my family and catch up with my mates so yeah, excited for my first trip home in over a year.
But first… I need to get this work done. So if you excuse me, I’m off to edit a book. Maybe by next month I’ll be finished. Hope springs eternal, right?
Aug 05

I finished the first draft of my next book. Hurrah!

It came in at more than 90,000 words. I then had the bright idea of checking my contract, and then emailing my publisher, and they only want 50,000. Hahaha! I probably should have done that before I wrote the thing…

So the bad news is that my magnum opus is twice the length it needed to be. I didn’t need to spend as long on it or do as much research as I did. But the good news is that – in theory – it should be easier to edit. I am going to need to chop everything in half – not quite, but almost – so I hope that will make the book stronger.

I took a week, 10 days, off as it was my daughter’s birthday. But from Monday I will be launching into the edit and my goal is to get the second draft completed by the start of September. Labor Day? Hopefully. We shall see. But at least the hard part is done and it should all be free and easy plain sailing from here and… no, not really, but I’m certainly feeling a lot better about it than I was two months ago. Funny what you can do when you put your mind to it.

Just a month left of summer. I need to get things organised for my next three writing courses, two of which will begin in September and the other in October when I come back from my visit home. I’ll launch into that side of my professional life on Monday as well. Probably.

In my personal life it has been a time of change, adjustment and deep introspective self-examination. Kinda. Sorta. But change is good, right? Life sometimes needs to be shaken up and looked at from a different angle to stop you getting stale. At least that’s what I’m telling myself.

So wish me luck and I will set myself the goal of not blogging next month until I’ve draft two complete. “I’m going out. I may be some time…”

Jul 04

I was flying along with my World Cup book, writing thousands of words a day. But then I got side-tracked.

Personally I find it helpful to split projects up into smaller pieces and then it feels like I’m accomplishing goals. I only have two chapters to write and then I’m (more or less) finished with the first draft. I’ve been driving around the country and been bogged down with lots of other domestic stuff in the past few weeks, but even so, if I can get the next chapter knocked off by the end of next week – and I think I can – then I’m right back on track. My aim is to get it completed by the end of July.

I will probably then schedule a couple of days off before going back to edit it. I’m giving myself two months to polish it off and clean it up and all those other euphemisms we writers use to describe when we ┬átry to make something better. There is certainly work to be done on that front.

But I’ve enjoyed researching and writing this book and I learned a bunch of stuff, maybe some of it I knew once upon a time but had forgotten. I have always loved international football / soccer and especially the World Cup. If Northern Ireland could qualify for the next tournament in Russia – hope springs eternal, right? – then how fabulous would that be to go to see them play in it a mere 26 years after my last visit. Yeah well, we are a long way from that. But sure a boy can dream.

Anyway, as I write it’s the Fourth of July and I will celebrate in traditional American fashion by going up into my attic to hunt for a bunch of things I need. Land of the Brave, Home of the Free, and Habitat of Stuff apparently.

Happy Independence Day y’all.

Jun 06

So summer has well and truly arrived in Louisiana. My daily six-mile jog is more like a slog, a battle between the elements and my creaking, middle-aged body. I run in the heat of the day in an attempt to… well, I don’t know what really. I was going to write, “acclimatise to the conditions” but then I realised I don’t have any need to do that. Some of our Sunday games kickoff at noon but that’s hardly a valid reason. Maybe I just like punishing myself, although it’s great when you sweat a lot and then step on the scales because you can convince yourself the weight is simply melting off you, when of course the second you drink a glass of water it all goes on again.

I am in the midst of getting my World Cup book finished. My plan is to have the first draft done by the end of July, and I should be managing that I think unless disaster strikes. I have plenty of other things going on here at Rea Towers as well so my life is a bit of a juggling act at the minute. Up until last month I had four different jobs, but in the last couple of weeks one has gone away and another has slowed down, so although it doesn’t do great things for the bank balance, at least it gives me time to read up on first round matches from the 1938 World Cup and such.

So back to the grind. I hope wherever you are in the world, you are managing to stay cool.

May 05

Well, maybe a bit of an exaggeration. But I did record a TV show this week.

Jack and Ozzy Osbourne have a program that aired on the History Channel last year called World Detour. It is switching to the A&E Channel and they are currently recording the second season. They were in New Orleans for a couple of days, and they called into see me.

They spent an afternoon here, chatting about the old days and talking about Hurricane Katrina and stuff. I thought there would maybe be five or six crew, apparently there is an entourage of 24 who travel with them! It seemed to be a lot. We also chatted about the LaLaurie Mansion in the French Quarter, it’s a famous house here in the city and I know the owner. They filmed over there that night, I went down and hung around and my nine-year-old daughter got to meet Ozzy which was great.

I’m sure my segment will be cut down to a couple of minutes, but it was great fun and I enjoyed it a lot. It was also good fun just to catch up with the two of them and have a chat, it’s been years since I’ve had the chance to do that with either of them really. My life as an Ozzy Osbourne roadie seems a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away…

The clip should air in the Fall so no doubt I will be bragging and blowing my trumpet about it then. Unless I look and sound like an eejit. Which I probably won’t know until it goes out. To millions of viewers. As they say in all the best shows, “Stay tuned and find out…”