What I do for a living is certainly unusual. Phrases I have heard over the years include…
I couldn’t/wouldn’t do your job.
Your job is my worst nightmare.
And finally - a phrase which can be misconstrued by sensitive/creative types and particularly so if heard after a show…
Why do you do your job?
However, this a reasonable question and my answer is simple - because I can. And because sometimes I love it. After the gig mostly, sometimes during - but rarely before.
Stand up is definitely a tough game. Attrition rates are high and not many starters make it a living.
Albeit, being funny is easy - for people who are funny, that is. But being funny on demand is more difficult. The nerves. The heckles. The tuts. The stares. The new joke that bombs…
And yet being unable to gig with lockdown, I am doing something even more frightening and fool-hardy.
Writing a novel online.
A sequel to my debut novel, Only in America. Reprising my characters and setting them on an adventure, some 20 years later.
The idea being that this novel will be written collaboratively with my readers having an input: advising, suggesting, cajoling, encouraging and correcting the novel on an on-going basis.
Which is highly exposing and not just for my agricultural literary skills. I failed English at school and my grasp of grammar is loose. I am hazy on when a comma moves aside for a colon and is a head master a principal or a principle? I can never recall.
I warned subscribers about my typos which are many and glaring. I have an affliction whereby my brain knows what I am meaning – and it tricks my eyes in to seeing what is not there. One day, there will be a word for this condition and hopefully it will arrive in time for me.
I posted the first chapter recently and with some trepidation. Almost as stressful as an important gig. And then waited.
Quickly the feedback came back. Most of it encouraging. Much of it pointing out typos but this is small beer, easily edited and corrected.
I’m all about story. A book worth reading has to have a story worth telling. I don’t do details. I don’t do planning. Not at this early stage. Just get on with it. Make a start. Get some miles in the tyres.
Which is apparent to one reader – Audrey – who has just read my first novel in prep for this venture (that’s commitment, right there) – and she has spotted a glaring mistake in my sequel on the very first page. And not just a typo but an egregious error.
I have got the name of my heroine wrong.
She was Juliet in Only in America and is now somehow, Elizabeth.
What has happened to Juliet?
Audrey emails me to ask – a reasonable question but not so easy to explain. Because what sort of idiot writer does such a thing? Which writer forgets the name of his leading character?
One that shouldn’t be writing anything more ambitious than a blog, perhaps?
Another cross that I must bear (or is it bare?), is that I am hopelessly delusional – and beautifully demonstrated now because in my head this novel will be my literary breakthrough.
People who have already signed up to this venture have no idea what they’ve let themselves in for. Drop off rates might be high and I’m prepared for this. But it will be a creative writing course like no other - if only to glean what not to do, it will be worth it.
So, if you’re game - and possibly incredibly bored…
Only in America is free to download on Amazon – and the new novel – An English Lesson Set to Music (working title) is currently taking shape on my Patreon.
And if it’s going to be a breakthrough book - at my seventh attempt - I’m going to need all the help I can get.
More simply put - more Audrey's needed.