Progress On My 1st Novel – The Great Corporate Escape

GCE blue coverIt’s been a while since I’ve mentioned how I’m doing on my first planned Novel release. It’s called The Great Corporate Escape and aims to be a humorous fictional story about a chap attempting to break out of the corporate trap. As his boredom and frustration grows, his imagination takes over until in the end he becomes so obsessed that fantasy actually becomes reality.

It is incredibly auto-biographical and therein lies most of the problems that I have come across while reading it back. It’s at the 3rd draft stage now and very close to being done but still a million miles away. In the spirit of this blog I’ll let you know what I’ve learnt from all of this, so that at least I’ll remember not to make the same mistakes again. đŸ™‚

Plan, Plan, Plan

This was the first book that I started to write when I began my new life. I jumped into it with all of the zest of a young man running in to a strip club. But this was lesson number one.

Since these heady days I have learnt that writing is not fun at all but actually solid hard work. You have to be structured and disciplined if you want others to take it seriously. The first stage of this is a robust plan of where the story is going, what it is that you’re trying to say, what does each character offer to the story. Really challenge the plan so it’s watertight.

Write about what you know, but not actual real life

You’re forever being told to write about what you know, and this makes sense from the no research required angle, but don’t write about situations that have actually happened. This story is very loosely the true story of how I left my job in accountancy. (NO! I hear you say)

Now that I’m eighteen months away from that event happening in my life it’s as boring to me as it must be to everyone else, and yet I went into detail about certain parts of leaving that now bore me to tears when I read it back. I have been faithful to the truth with certain anecdotes but these do not necessarily help the story, there are too many characters involved because in real life you come across a lot of different people, there’s a lot of bitterness sensed between the lines which is neither enjoyable to read or particularly helpful to the story (although it was cathartic at the time).

Overall

I will ultimately be writing two books. The book I have at the moment which is a pseudo-auto-biography which details what happened as an accurate record of my life’s history, and then the book that I am re-writing now which will be a funny, fictional story of another man’s journey from the universal corporate trap. The second version is the book that I always intended to write but I was too close to the events at the time to give myself enough distance.

Obviously this realisation is frustrating (how much time?) and embarrassing (how many beta-readers?) but I think it had to happen. I have learnt a hell of a lot  from it all and that can’t be a bad thing. I’m now refocussed, re-energised, rehabilitated, and returning to the story that I wanted to write.

Have you ever felt this tinge of annoyance when you realise that you’ve missed the point?

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5 responses to “Progress On My 1st Novel – The Great Corporate Escape

  1. Great, honest post. I think you’ve hit the high points – write what you know (to an extent), and plan, plan, plan. Time and a bit of distance can really change one’s perspective on his or her own writing.

  2. I realized that writing was not fun when I first set out to do it. To hear other writers say so helps me know that it is not a sign of ineptness. An Oscar winner for best screenplay once said the same thing: — ‘this makes writing seem fun, and it is not’ –is what he said in his speech while he held his award in the air.
    It’s not fun, yet I am hopelessly drawn to do it. It’s inescapable. Any idle moment I have in my busy day, I get a tap on my brain (from somewhere) that reminds me to write – as though I must, or it would be unhealthy somehow – sort of like everything else you must do – brush your teeth, eat, sleep, etc..

    • It’s also not a bad way to live our lives either though and we have to remember that. It’s not a walk in the park but it’s a damn sight easier than most things I know. Like you say, it doesn’t feel like work and that’s the good thing about it. You can be really busy, and at it all of the time, but it still doesn’t feel like work. I hope that feeling never goes however routine this vocation becomes.

      • You’re right, it doesn’t exhaust me. I can spend more hours on it than anything else (even sleeping, I think). Hey, great book cover by the way, and interesting storyline.

  3. Good reflections, Mike.Can’t say I’m surprised as you’ve been talking and doing anything But sharing how the novel’s going since quite a while before Christmas. Nothing’s lost by reflection,as long as learning comes from it!
    Your enthusiasm and open openness is great, however the planning has got to be key to getting the work of writing done.
    Vast experience in not a lot has proved to me that planning leads to control of outcomes……..so yes, plan, plan, plan!
    Keep the guy who does your art work though…….I think he’s brilliant!

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