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  • Elliot Harper

Beginning

Updated: Sep 29, 2019

Where to begin…

Why have I chosen writing you may wonder?

I am a reader; I devour books, sometimes two at a time. I'd go so far as to say I need to read; even while I am reading one, I am already deciding which one to read next. This will make sense to many of you out there. Reading is a pleasure, a hobby, a joy…etc, etc. The big question is, does an avid reader make a good writer?

For many years I have been terrified to even ask myself that very question. To me that little voice in my head always told me "no... you can't do it… you are an idiot …you have bad grammar… you can't spell". On and on that little voice would punish me for even daring to think that I could write. "Just read" it would say, "why ruin a good thing?" it would reason, "leave it alone" it would command. That little voice can be very convincing.

If it was so convincing why don't I listen to that little voice right now? Has it gone? Where did it go? The truth is, that little voice will never leave; it is a part of me. It will always sneak in the back door to try and ruin a perfectly good moment. The key for me was recognising that there actually was a little voice. The revelation that there were other people out there going through the same thing blew my mind. To realise that it wasn't just me; that others had that same voice telling them they couldn't do it, that was a game changer.

How did I find out that others had that little voice? Bizarrely, a podcast by Russel Brand recommended by a close friend of mine. You all know the guy; comedian, recent political activist, a kind of spiritual super hippy. In his podcast (which I listened to for the politics and philosophy), I continually heard others speaking about their troubles with anxiety, problems with alcohol, substance abuse and issues in social situations. Not every one of those problems matched my own but some of it resonated with me. Suddenly, I didn't feel like such a freak anymore. There were others. What do they do to deal with these problems?

So, I read some books (no surprise there) and I carried on listening to the podcast. I went online and gradually I came to a few realisations. The lifestyle I was living was not working for me anymore. Eating poorly and drinking heavily. It was not my life itself, that is perfect. Great friends, great family, a wonderful wife who puts up with me and the dogs (better mention them or I will be in trouble). I was fit(ish) after a decade of running. It made sense then that it was something I was doing wrong.

So, I changed. First, I quit alcohol; this was a major thing for me. Drinking was practically a hobby, to suddenly shed it felt like I was throwing one of the key elements of my personality away. Second, I quit meat; forcing myself to eat more vegetables and fruit. That wasn't so difficult after quitting alcohol. Third, I took up meditation and yoga…hold on before you close this blog down and walk away from something that is seriously starting to read like a hippy's guide to life; just hear me out. This is the Headspace kind of mediation; training my mind not to dwell on the negative and trying to help me be calmer in life. Yoga is a great accompaniment to running and helps me work on balance and flexibility.

What has all this got to do with me writing weird fiction you might ask? Why are you subjecting me to this hippy bullshit you might sigh? It does matter, trust me! After I did all that mad stuff, I found that I could control that little voice I mentioned earlier on. Now that the little bastard is under control, I can allow myself to seriously consider doing things that scare the shit out of me. After some gentle pushing by a friend who had made the writing jump himself, I finally took that plunge and wrote the novella due to be released by Weasel Press later in the year. Then I wrote another, this time a novel. Then another, and then another, until in a year and a half I have written a novella and three novels. Bat shit crazy? Probably. Happier? Certainly.




I have been incredibly lucky. First and foremost, I married well; my wonderful wife Naomi is not only intelligent enough to get a great job out here in Houston, Texas but also puts up with my moaning most of the time. We moved out here nearly three years ago and after I learnt how to be a house husband (cooking, cleaning, washing, learning to drive, etc.), I found that I had enough time and space to clear my head. Something I couldn't do sat in an office hating life. It also gave me the time to write. In a short period of time, I have found a creative passion that has clearly been missing in my life. That coupled with those lifestyle changes I have made has brought me to where I am right now.

Does this all mean my novella will be amazing? A smash hit? Number one best seller? Probably not, but it exists; a few years ago, it would not have.

I hope you enjoyed this first attempt at a blog. I hope to do many more in the future.

The bloke with a ginger beard who writes.

Elliot


 

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