First blog – 22/01/2014

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Today is a very exciting day – my 14-year slog to get Saturday Night Jack in to print is finally over. I’m turning a corner and beginning a new phase of this incredible journey.

This is my first blog on my new website. Today I am also launching my SNJ Facebook page. Last but not least, I’m picking up the first paperback copies of the book from my publisher. It doesn’t get much better, eh.

It’s the end of a long journey, a journey I started in November 2000 when I wrote the first chapter of SNJ from a small office in the shadow of the Tyne Bridge. Back then, the determined little bugger I was, I said I would have failed myself if I did not see it through to the end. I knew the publishing road was littered with half-finished manuscripts and dashed dreams and I was determined not to be another one of them. Little did I know how long the road would be – it’s taken a lot of commitment and desire.

Dreaming up the idea, sketching out the plot and writing each chapter was undoubtedly the most enjoyable experience of my life. I would get lost for days on end as I powered through the chapters, sticking closely to my original plan. It still took time though, three years to finish the first draft, as I had to fit in writing around my day job as a reporter at The Press Association.

Then came the hard bit: trying to find an agent. I hated it. It was zero fun tailoring each approach to different, faceless people. Over the next few years – eight I reckon – I came close to success on a couple of occasions, both times substantially rewriting the manuscript to their suggestions. Sadly it didn’t work out. Rejection became the norm.

A decade after starting out, the enthusiasm I had for SNJ in the halcyon days of writing was all but extinguished. Stubbornly, I continued to try a few more agents but when I drew a blank, I thought I had reached the end. But then the self-publishing revolution started. I read about success stories, exchanged tweets and emails with those authors and decided to take the plunge myself. I used a fantastic artist to come up with my cover design (Design for Writers) and employed Troubador Publishing to make the paperback and ebook.

In little over nine months, a 90,000 word document on my hard drive has been transformed in to a book – a book I will get my hands on for the first time later today. It will be quite some moment.

In the last 14 years, my two main protagonists, reporter Mick Rogers and DCI Simon Sharpe, have been with me everywhere I go. I’ve taken them on my journeys home and abroad, on my honeymoon, to hospital as I waited for our first child to be born… they’ve never been far from my thoughts, my SNJ notebook never far from my side to jot down a new idea. There have been times when I’ve had to step away from them due to the pressures of daily life, but they’ve always been there in the background, nagging me for attention.

I’ve changed a lot in the last 14 years, my job in journalism has changed significantly and while the plot of the book has remained broadly the same, large parts have changed too. It starts in a different place, the division of the narrative between the two main characters is vastly different and the ending has been tweaked. Oh, and the sex scene has been totally axed. Too embarrassing.

But while the book is very different to the first version I completed in 2004, Mick and Simon have always been the same, patiently waiting their chance to be read.

Today is also the start of a journey for my two friends. I’m excited for them. Finally they will be out there and that’s quite some moment too. I hope you enjoy them as much as I’ve enjoyed living with them.

Dylan

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13 thoughts on “First blog – 22/01/2014

  1. Roddy Brooks

    Hi Dylan. I was sent a link to your blog by Ashley Broadley, our mutual friend and, until February 16, my boss at PA. I leave then to promote my book which is published on February 28. It is called The Journey, a book for children. I know your heartache and empathise with your feeling of rejection. Well done for keeping at it.

  2. Rob

    This is a great read, Dylan. I’m very impressed. Parts of it are sublime. Keep going. I’m sure there’s a lot more where this came from. Rob.

  3. Hi Dylan. Congratulations on the fabulous book and all of your other achievements. Not sure you will remember me – we were at Newcastle together. I was on the BA Linguistics course, my name was Nicola(Nicky) Harris and I was friends with Kay Aitken to name but a few. Anyway, I do a bit of writing too – mostly marketing copy and some blogging, for clients and myself – http://www.feedingmyintolerantchild.com
    Feel free to have a look and comment. Like you, I intend to self-publish some day. Am currently working with a chef to develop something that might help parents cook simple meals for children who have allergies. Sounds a bit dull compared to yours, but there is a growing need and I believe it is worth the effort.
    Best wishes and congratulations again. I will be sharing your blog and book with my followers.
    Nic
    x

    • Hi Nic,
      Thanks so much for the note. Yes, of course I remember you! It’s far too many years since we were studying in Newcastle…
      It’s great to think of you reading my book and I really appreciate you sharing it with your followers.
      I’ll certainly check out your blog, it sounds really interesting. We have some experience of food allergies, but not to the extent that you write about. It sound like a fascinating area to explore.
      Incidentally, how did you find out about SNJ? Also, feel free to follow it on Facebook as I’m hoping to start the sequel in 2015!
      Thanks again for the note, very best wishes for the New Year.
      Dylan

      • Happy New Year. Thanks for the reply. I’m glad you remember me. I often think back to those wonderful lectures with Noel Burton Roberts…. Seriously though it is nice to ‘find’ people again. Are you in touch with anyone else?

        I stayed on in Newcastle for a couple of years as I got a job at a design agency in Gosforth but then was lured back home to London, as agency life here is/was so much bigger – particularly in the late 90s. There is definitely a novel in that somewhere…it’s on
        my to do list!

        I came across your book through Twitter. I follow you and noticed you had mentioned it. It’s great. So exciting to read about such familiar places etc.

        I first stumbled upon you on Twitter when I was in the news myself and getting lots of contacts from journalists. My local MP is Nadine Dorries and I was featured in a lot of stories when she went on I’m a Celebrity. It was at a time that I was having a lot of trouble getting NHS appointments for Zac, so I wrote to her for help, she never replied and so I took my revenge on social media as soon as I found out she hadn’t replied because she was on her way to Australia!

        Was quite a bit of fun – MP bashing – and got some good awareness for the blog and the general cause – the appalling lack of care for kids and families with allergies etc. My pet campaign! Would love to hear your story/experiences. Always looking to bring others stories into the blog.

        The statistic is something like 1 in 2 kids and 1 in 3 adults has an allergy of some kind. I’m trying to help parents with really little ones get the support they need with regard to food and nutrition, but also general care and testing. I am also working with a business on the implementation of the new European food regs that came in at the end of December. There has been a lot of negativity about it and so we are trying to alter perceptions…

        Anyway, I better get back to it. I have a restaurant review to write up! Thanks again for replying. I will get on Facebook and follow, share and keep an eye out for that sequel.

        All the best.

        Nic

      • Hi Nic,
        I’ve lost touch with most people from my course at uni, apart from two who I’m good friends with – simon walker and Toby read.
        Sounds like you had fun around I’m a Celebrity, I remember that well. She got a lot of stick for sure!
        Our experience of allergies has been pretty straightforward, happily. Our daughter had terrible reflux when she was a baby and we thought it might be an allergy. She went for a number of tests but thankfully they came back negative and she grew out of it. We have other friends who have not been so fortunate, particularly with dairy allergies. It sounds incredibly difficult to deal with and emotionally draining. Looks like you are doing a great job with your blog which must be a help to many.
        Thanks v much for your support and interest in SNJ. It’s really fun to reconnect with people who have stumbled across it. Hardly a literary masterpiece which Noel Burton-Roberts will lecture on though….
        Happy New Year and all the best for 2015.
        Dylan

      • Hi again. Just wanted to say I finished the book and loved it. Really gripping. I have left a review on Amazon and your FB page. You must be so proud.
        Thanks again for the comments on my blog. Your story and those of your friends is so common. Many women suffer a great deal struggling to cope with babies who seem so poorly – with zero support. It isn’t right and I’m determined to do my bit to help however and wherever.
        Catch up again soon and well done again.
        You have spurred me on to keep going with my writing etc.
        Nic

      • Thanks Nic, I really appreciate you reading it and the wonderful review. Very kind.
        I’m glad it has inspired you to continue your writing. Go for it! You have nothing to lose. I always said to myself when my spirits were lagging that I would regret it for the rest of my life if I didn’t complete the book, regardless of whether it was published. It’s hard to find the time but I’d rather do that than live with the regret.
        Very best of luck,
        Dylan

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