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4 Years in the making...

...Which I'm extremely pleased about, for obvious reasons. This is like when someone takes a picture with their newborn, since, technically, this is my creation, born from the imagination. I think every author has the right to brag that they've dragged a little piece of themselves into this world, often through years of toil and hard work.

Talking of hard work, I can explain a bit about how Randouka came about.

I have this thing about time. Because once it's gone, you can't relive that time differently. This is why I have a mentality that wants to make the most out of every single day and can't abide forcing procrastination onto someone. Yes, I know the importance of relaxation and definitely get enough of that! BUT. Equally, I've also been in too many positions where I have practically been forced into flushing my valuable time... down the drain. Let's list the main ones here. School. Bus stops. Train journeys. Waiting rooms. Evenings alone. Lockdown.

Others may not have cared so much, but this is the way 16-year-old me saw it. I have creative ideas. Far too many. Enough to last me a lifetime. So the sooner I get them down on paper, the more of a head-start I can have in my author lifestyle and the sooner I can get a passive income! Which, I'm sorry, a Maths GCSE isn't going to bring. Fair enough, if I wanted to be an engineer, an accountant, a person who wanted to work with numbers. But sheesh, did this education system take that into account? Did it ever even give us a choice?? No. It just split the GCSE options into very limited blocks, dishing out too much time for subjects that not every student feels passionate about. Or even helpful. I'm not a left-brain, numbers type person. The people who are, are definitely worthy of respect and we need them in society. But that just isn't me. Give me words. Images. Sound. Movement. I'm that kind of person. And quite frankly, telling a child to sit through subjects that they're never going to use in much depth, is among the worst kind of time stealing.

This is why I chose to take matters into my own hands. The first pages of Randouka started out during my Year 10 Summer holidays, soon to pass into Year 11. After that, I can safely say that at least half the subjects on my timetable were not of my own choosing. Something that I wasn't going to sit back and accept any more. For the rest of the year, I used my least favourite lessons to write under the table (or sometimes even on it. Some of the teachers didn't suspect a thing, as I got mostly good grades regardless). The writing was frequently interrupted. It was stressful. But I was willing to do what it took to get the book written, because of that burning wish to see it out in print, to real-ize my ideas, to start selling. And that meant being able to start on new projects, too. Just to note, the first draft was written entirely by hand. That's 650 pages in print, and the hand version I never bothered to count. But if it gives you a better idea, you can look at the picture below where there's 3 battered notebooks containing the first draft, next to the finished product. When it first came in the post, dad and I were like, Bloody hell. How did I do so much?

Moving on from the school years, next up was college. As you can probably tell, I have a massive distaste for how modern education is set up, but that's a rant for another day. All I can say is, I made the most of my time in that depressing place and used the enjoyable lessons to my advantage. Being able to write was a good set up for my future. College was a really pleasant place to be in comparison, even if what I was studying was only a second best option. The real perks were in having to go in only 3 half days per week, and that was considered a full-time diploma. The other days were spent training on the ice and enjoying the quietness of town on a weekday. Unlike school, they'd treat you with respect, like you would expect in a professional workplace, and they helped fund bus journeys too. Public transport was an ideal place to get in a spot of writing, especially when you're not sure when it's going to turn up! Alongside that, there was also the library to start typing up the draft out of study hours. It was a pretty chill time, with things going in the right direction. More skating, better social life, finding a part-time job...

Well, it never lasted.

You know why. We're talking February 2020 when *bat disease* was introduced to the world. Everyone has a certain amount of challenges in life, but some moments can make you question can I ever get a break?

Without going into too much detail, having a book to finish was one of the few things that kept me sane, on track with a purpose that needed fulfilling. With very little other events to pass the time, days upon days rolled by with very little to show for it. Like one horrible, monotonous stretch of months. Are you seeing now why I hate time stealers?

But finish it I did, 8th February 2021 to be exact, and what a moment that was! To make it even more magical, the freak cold weather had frozen over all the floodplains in my area, creating a hotspot for skaters for miles around who were severely missing their sport. Got to say, I was proud to be the first to think of it and to share that moment with nature on the first day. When the sky met the horizon over the vast expanse of ice... words don't do it justice, really.

Essentially, what am I getting at? If I were to give advice to any writer, it would be to take your notes wherever you go. Dip into them any time, literally any time that you're forced to wait. That is, if you want to get it out there quickly. It may not be everyone's style, in which case it's perfectly fine to set up a cosy space where you can type in a more relaxed atmosphere. For me, though, it was important to grab the ideas and lay them out onto paper at any given chance. Being an author is commitment; anyone who's made it will tell you it's not a walk in the park. And just when you've written, edited, designed, printed and think the work is over...

...That's when you have to market the damn thing!

Best of luck to any aspiring writers out there. You got this.

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