22 March 2014

Leaving London – An Anti-Romance Story for the Analyzation Generation

Leaving London
360 pages

A ramble on writing that first book.

And so my first book has been set adrift among the millions of others out there hoping to find a home. 
Finishing a first, full length book is a strange feeling. I expected elation but found myself sitting at the laptop looking at the last sentence with a sense of, “okay, that’s done, time to move on.” I let the book sit for about five months I think before putting it out there on Amazon. It had been in my head for a decade, five more months wouldn’t matter.

I started writing it about 10 years ago when I was still living in London. I think when I first started to write it I had just been sacked from another soul-crushingly boring temp job and this was a way to fill the afternoons or the evenings. Actually, now that I think back, I had just left a job because the management wanted me become a permanent member of staff and I didn’t want that. I didn’t want permanency, I wanted everything on a temporary basis, which is one of the themes of the book. At that time I’d rather choose nothing over permanency because when you’re in jobs that you hate, the term ‘temp employee’ seems like you have a 'get out of jail free card’ tucked in your pocket - nonsense of course, you can leave permanent jobs almost as easily as temp jobs.

When I eventually moved out of London I fell into a relationship that lasted six years and not a word was written in the book during that period. But during those six years I started writing as a way to earn a living, writing articles for both print and online. Writing for others for money has its ups and downs, and although I didn’t undertake any writing on the book during that six year period, (I think I stalled after about 80 pages), it was never out of my mind. So eventually, a couple of years ago, probably during a period when my freelance writing had dried up for a bit, I started to tinker around with it, consider ideas on how the story would progress, where the characters would go.

The characters and the story I wanted to tell were still there, like a film that I had only watched half of years ago and then tuned into again recently. Rereading those first 80 pages and then continuing to write brought back to me the excitement of living in that grubby flat in London, (although it probably didn’t seem all that exciting at the time, the selective nature of memory) with my money rapidly dwindling or more likely non-existent and the only thought in my head being, “just write, at least you're doing something, fuck London and all its problems.”

And yet, although at the time I thought, “fuck London and all its problems”, the problems I had back then or the situations I found myself in were not caused by London, the city is just a backdrop. There’s a line from the great film ‘Round Midnight said to Dexter Gordon’s character Dale Turner as he is about leave New York for Paris for a better life, “You know who's going to be waiting for you at the airfield in Paris, don't you? You.”  Unfortunately with no escape to Paris or anywhere else open to me there was nothing much else to do but write.

Creative writing is a completely different thing from writing articles for websites and copywriting for businesses. With creative writing you can escape, create your own world and do as you please and the only person you have to please with your writing is you. When you write you escape, even if the thing you are writing about at the time is the situation from which you’d like to escape. You can change your circumstances in a story, take small elements from your life if you wish and enhance them, exaggerate them, make them better or worse, bring in completely imaginary characters and situations, it’s the writer’s choice.

Maybe the thing that makes writing a pleasurable experience much of the time for the writer or for anyone who is engaged in a creative endeavor is that for once you have control over a situation, it’s yours, you own it or maybe it owns you. You're doing something you want to do. Whether anyone else likes it or not is not your concern during writing. You have no one to answer to but yourself and once it's over, hopefully, you will feel a bit better about having accomplishing something for yourself.

I’ve rambled on aimlessly now for 700 words and barely mentioned what the book is about.

Well, it's about life in London. An anti-romance story for the analyzation generation, about the city and a selection of its inhabitants, most of whom have all landed in London for their own reasons and soon find that the streets in London aren't paved with gold. I'll leave you with the book cover description. Thanks for reading.

"It’s not like I didn’t have a life before she arrived. She didn’t magically appear out of nowhere and give my life meaning." - Cal

"Your problem is that you’re more like an empty book and you’re waiting on someone else to write your pages for you. For someone who doesn’t believe in fate and destiny and all that shit, you seem to spend an awful lot of time waiting for something to happen to you.” - Sofia

Temporary jobs, temporary friends and temporary relationships. Temporary can easily become a comfortable lifestyle if you linger in London too long.

Moving to London means you’ve now become one of the eight million players on a large, vibrant and sometimes dangerous stage. This is a city that offers something for everyone whether you’re looking for love, money, work, fun or simply a way of avoiding life. Drink, drugs, sex, relationships, office politics and the daily grind – just another day in London. Leaving London takes place within one year in the city, a year where two people, who weren't looking, find each other among eight million other inhabitants.

Narrator Cal finds himself living in the city once again, trying his best to traverse the metropolis by having only the maximum fun with the minimum of effort. The city has other plans. Mugged on Christmas Eve, daily office politics and a suicidal flat mate all conspire to add to his constant hangover but it’s Sofia who makes the biggest impact on Cal’s year. It’s easy to find someone in London but trusting someone, that’s a different matter.

Leaving London is an anti-romance story for the analyzation generation. A humorous and often dark look at everyday life in a city where a year can be a life changing experience.

*Review copies are available.


TJ Lubrano said...

So excited for you! You should ramble more often, Garry. I already started reading, so you can expect a review on Amazon soon-ish. :)

Wish you lots of luck with the book!

Garry Crystal said...

Ah thank you TJ, very much appreciate you buying the book and sharing your tweets on it etc. Sharing your tweets, that sounds a bit weird. I look forward to hearing what you think at some point.

TJ Lubrano said...

Gosh. It only sounded weird when you pointed it out, haha. But yes, I'll keep you posted!

Derek Thompson said...

Congrats, Garry - Let me know if you'd like to do a blog interview to help promote the book. Derek

Garry Crystal said...

Thanks Derek. I would do a blog interview anytime, that would be great, thanks.