Clearing out a corner of the cabin in our garden from which I work, I recently rediscovered the novel that I wrote when I was aged 21, in 1988.
It’s a complete first draft entirely typed out onto a portable typewriter that I bought as a student.
It was interesting to read it again. It is terrible, but without it, I would not have written my subsequent novels. There was, however, a gap of over 20 years before I started writing fiction again.
My Muzzy Head
In 2010 I went to the GP with what she termed a muzzy head. She suggested we take some blood test to see what might be wrong with me.
I went back for the results two weeks later, and she was pleased to report that they come back clear and there was nothing wrong. She waited for me to leave.
I said that whilst I was pleased she had found nothing wrong, I still have my muzzy head. I mentioned that one website suggested that it might be a mild form of depression.
The doctor gave me a form to take home and fill out. She asked me to bring it back completed two weeks later.
I will never forget sitting at the kitchen table as I unfolded this tatty and much photocopied piece of paper, headed ‘Depression Questionnaire’.
The first question asked: how many times a week do you feel like killing yourself?
Noticing What Was Missing
Around that time, a friend, who was training to be a life coach, asked if I would be a guinea pig for her to practice on. I confess I was a little cynical, but agreed to help her out.
Those three sessions changed my life. We realised that the one thing I felt I wanted to do I was not doing, and that this was what was causing me the depression.
Filling The Void
So I started writing again. I created the space by taking Wednesdays off, and began writing what became my first novel, A Bridge Of Straw, published three years later.
Six months after I started writing again, I realised that the muzzy head had gone.
I truly believe that to write something great first of all I need to write quite a lot of rubbish. Neil Finn calls it the rule of 9 – out of every 10 songs he write, 9 aren’t very good, and 1 is. But he has to write those 9 to get to the 1.
I’m glad that I finished that novel when I was 20, and I have no regrets about stopping until I felt I had something to say.
I do wish, however, I had restarted earlier!
Written by : Chris Budd
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Chris Budd lives in Somerset with his wife and two children. He plays guitar, reads lots of books and graphic novels, and spends far too little time watching cricket. In between all this, Chris likes to think a lot and write a little.
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