The photo above: this is the shed I wrote my first book in the hills of Bonny Doon, California.
My dad keeps saying he wants to write a book.
He told me he wants his history on paper so all of his family can know about his life and their connected history. For example, he wanted to add the details of how he was abandoned at 18-months and left to be brought up by his granny and granddad. He finally met his father accidentally in a pub when he was on leave from the army at 19-years of age.
There’s a lot to write after 83-years of life.
The last time we spoke about it, he told me he had started writing his book. He pulled out a pad with around 5-6 pages had-written.
I said “well done but is this it?”
He replied “yes” it was he couldn’t get time to do it because he has to cut his grass all the time. When not cutting grass he had to take his dogs for a walk. When not walking his dogs his wife – my mother – doesn’t like to see him sitting and relaxing or doing his won things so she insists he is doing something or other.
With my own first book, I thought about writing it maybe in 2008. I think I wanted to make more sense of life and the insane divorce I had gone through. I also wanted I suppose to have a record of my thoughts for my kids. Eventually, I began writing it in 2010 whilst I had a long stay in California.
Eventually that book – Escape from Zoomanity – was published January 2012.
Here’s one thing I learnt writing that book. OK, I am going to tell you two things.
First, I just sat and started writing and stopped writing once I had written what I thought was a book. It wasn’t. The publishers asked me why it had no chapters. I told them I had no idea and asked should it have them? They told me yes so I had to spend months sorting chapters and rearranging a book I had already written twice.
Second, I planned nothing. I just wrote. This lack of planning meant months of editing, rearranging, and re-writing.
Looking back and looking at how I write my books now I plan my books, plan the chapters and lay out the plan with enough room to make changes where I need to make them.
But going back to dad.
It also takes time.
I was in a position with my first book to take that time.
With my writing today I don’t have as much time to throw around. This means I have to steal back time and that means better time management.
Yet for me writing a book is important because I have learnt family doesn’t have the time to really ask or share what they should ask or share. Yet once gone family want to know more. The more can be found in a book.
My darling wife Tamuna had an old granddad (babua). Sadly he died five days after I met him in Tbilisi. He was the first man to kiss me all over my face. This is a very Georgian thing but it felt a bit sloppy at the time.
He insisted in speaking Russian rather than Georgian because I was foreign and he thought I would understand Russian.
Once sat down he pulled out piles and piles of papers he had written on. Every piece dated, signed and recorded for history. Here was a man restricted by the communists yet understood the importance of writing history for the future.
His papers haven’t really been read too much by anyone yet I think they will be at some point. I also think at some point we will put those words into a book of some kind.
Before I go.
Outside I can hear a loud endless screeching. We have parakeets living outside in the big oak tree and it looks like they had babies. There were two and now there are around ten.
Of course, we don’t have this kind of large green bird in the U.K. because they are not local and don’t survive well here.
Last year these two guys escaped from their little Zoomanity and have survived the winter.
They are noisy, they fly super-fast and they are expanding fast.
What a great book if parrots could write.
How we escaped our cage and survived all odds to become the largest population of wild parrots in the UK.
Brilliant – I might just write it!
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