Adam Bird

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Sunday, 28 August 2011

A Summer Through Time & Living in the Minds of Strangers

The Bicycle Man

At the end of June, I disclosed through the pages of this blog that I was at the beginning of a project. Under the working title of “The Bicycle Man” I’d began writing something that I termed as “substantial” without actually going as far as saying that it was an attempt to write a novel. At the time, I’d barely written over a thousand words - tonight, just two months later, that word count stands at a catchphrase under 30,000. Does it mean therefore that I have to enough to start calling it something else?

In writing this blog, purely for my own benefit as a way of encouragement to myself. A way of measuring a milestone and saying “this is what you have done so far, keep going”. In two months I have gone from having an empty word document with a photograph (seen in the banner above) of a man  I’d never spoken to and an introductory few paragraphs that sparked a set of questions with answers that I needed to deliver. And now, I have some substance, of who the man was, where he is now and how he managed to tell his story. I still have no idea where it’s heading or how it’s going to end, but I am getting there!

The problem I have right now though, is the ugly old monster of confidence. In my mind, I think to myself, what’s the point? You've spent all this time, all this effort and for what? It won’t ever be published, people won’t enjoy it and it won’t be no good. What’s the point in a manuscript sitting somewhere on the cloud, accessed by me from time to time to read and depress myself about the time that I could have spent doing something more productive?

Self doubt is a poisonous thing and I cope with that by badgering my sister, sending her finished chapters and asking her for an opinion, or anyone else who may ask me about what I’m doing. When she replies back, “yes it’s really good”, I then worry even more, is she is only just saying that because she is my sister, does she hate it really? I get myself into this vicious circle and if it wasn't for the fact that I've written so much it’s any wonder I haven’t ctlr+alt+deleted the whole thing.

Instead, what has pushed me so far is not necessarily about the length, or whether or not it is good enough, has been just the shear determination and will to finish something. I might not ever have a published novel, but at least I can say that I have written one, that I have been through the process and beaten my own demons whilst doing it. More importantly, that it has been a pleasure and a source of enjoyment and that come the end - whenever that may be, there will be huge sense of loss for the people I’ll leave behind. The characters that I have created, The Bicycle Man and his wife, his best friend Pete who went missing just when they’d finally had the chance to start living and Ian, the man whose sympathetic ear helped heal some wounds in his own life as The Bicycle man unburdened his.

Whatever happens, success or failure, I’ll remember this summer as the summer I went back in time, researched the war, read a book called “Lost voices of the Royal Navy” in an attempt to understand better the horrors of the sea and sacrifices that many sailors made for our country. What it was like to be an evacuee and how some people were not as fortunate as others, a human lottery where dependant upon your number your fate was sealed with sometimes fateful circumstances. Or if not looking back, sitting on the train on my commute home with my “Ian” head on, thinking about possible scenarios I could put him in and how he might deal with them. Or his wife, Lucy, his best mate Rob, or the copper Ian turns to - a continual growing cast that need a back story, an angle and a role to play within the narrative.

To ask again; do I have enough yet to call it something else? Well... no, would be my honest answer. I’m fearful of calling it a novel as I’m not sure I want the pressure, but it’s almost certainly beyond the scope of a short story! I'm going to keep it simple, it is what it is - one of two unfinished documents sitting snuggly within the confines of my computer, this being one of them. Let’s just leave it at that for now...

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