My Sixty Seventh Week as a Budding Author
One of the fantastic things about being human beings is the fact that we get to name things. As far as I am aware we are the only animal that does this unless there really are dolphins called “squeeeeeek” or a world full of confused dogs all called “woof”. Naming pets produces a particularly fascinating challenge in the modern age as vets log their names onto computers and spam their owners with mailings about the latest defence against sarcoptic mange mite or something.
In the years that we’ve had pets I’ve always managed to get one up on the vet’s computer by judicious use of the convention that states “one’s pet should be named after one’s interests”. So, we have had sarcoptic mange mite letters delivered to:-
“6X - A Damn Fine Bitter Barter”
Which clearly fitted into the envelope address window. So after 6X the cat departed the next incumbent was named:-
“Wembley, Wembley, we’re the famous Swindon Town and we won at Wembley Barter”
This not only foiled the envelope address line, it nearly killed the vet’s computer which really only had enough disk space for “Tiddles”. The next cat will be named “Please redirect this mail to sender” which is why Helen has informed me that we won’t be getting one anytime soon.
Now you may wonder what on earth this all has to do with writing a book, there is a link and it is a little tenuous but it is related to a tweet I was party to in the previous week.
“That book title” refers to “Obsessive Compulsive Cycling Disorder” and the implication is that I lifted it from somebody else’s website and applied it to my recently published book. Furthermore I am accused of being a “boy”, which is particularly annoying at the moment as I have bucked Movember convention and entered into a dare with my family to live an entire April away from the razor. 50% of the new facial hair that has sprouted is grey. If meths were to decide to advertise to bench dwelling alcoholics, I’d be first in line to apply for the job as their “face”.
Anyhow, let’s answer the accusation by going back in time a little bit, which conveniently allows me to use my mocked up time machine photo that I think is hilarious. The comedy is in Eeyore’s expression, he clearly does not want to be part of the time machine mockup and is doing it under duress. Surely you can also spot the genius of using a Kaiser Chiefs CD for the rear? Did any of you see the film?
Back to the book title. Somewhere round about July last year I had decided that I would turn a few of my musings into a book. At the time I was considering publishing this blog (and I warn you that I may still do that). So I sat down and wrote the first few pages of the introduction. If you have read them it clearly outlines the kind of obsessive character that I am and so I jotted down a few ideas for a title into my journal.
I was toying with the themes of cycling and obsession, you try it yourself and you will quickly come to find that “obsessive compulsive” comes to mind. This is entirely due to those poor unfortunates who really do suffer from a proper medical obsessive compulsion. In fact I’ve worked with a guy who had a series of rituals that meant he had to be the last to leave rooms and hence clearly became a little stressed if you attempted to work later than him.
A quick brainstorm came up with the titles you can see on the page above. Forgive the handwriting and “Holiday in France” is not one of them. The shortlist was:-
- Disorderly Cycle
- OCD Cycling
- Ten Years Two Wheels
- Obsessive Compulsive Cycling Disorder
- Biwheel Curious/Curiosity
I binned the project for the next six months as it was becoming a distraction but picked it up again in December 2011 when I realised that I needed to get out and publish something in the name of experience. I worked on the intro further and sent a copy to a friend early 2012 entitled “Obsessive Compulsive Cycling Disorder”. The title had been chosen at Christmas.
There was a simple reason for the choice. It has nothing to do with anyone’s blog/book/cat/website/twitter account. The reason was that in writing the introduction I realised that I genuinely am obsessed with the bloody sport and not in a “do it quite a lot way” more of a “have to buy or try every single aspect of the sport in the pursuit of further happiness”.
I’ve owned just about every single type of bike, I’ve ridden almost every variant of cycling event and I’ve cycled at least 7,000 miles per annum every year for the past ten years. My house is jam packed with cycling books and magazines. I’ve had to build an extra shed to hold the bike fleet and it is a bloody good job that the kids were born before the cycling obsession as they’d be very embarrassed to answer to “Merckx” and “Fausto”.
For me the title was obvious. I spent exactly zero minutes checking the web, the only check I did was in the ISBN searches to see if a book with a similar title existed. All I came up with was a long list of medical texts and a book scientifically proving that God exists. The decision was made and I got on with writing and publishing my magnum opus.
In February I received a tweet from @Specialized_Guy where he asked how I had come by the title of my book. So I replied and then twitter-followed him and went for a look at his blog. Lo and Behold! It was entitled “Obsessive Compulsive Cycling Disorder”. Interestingly my first reaction was that he’d nicked it off me. We exchanged a few tweets and that was that. I came back to his website later for a proper read and it became clear that whilst we are both obsessives we manifest the obsession in completely different ways.
@Specialized_Guy is an aspiring cycle tourist. He’s packed up his life into a bike load of panniers and waved goodbye to four walls for a two year trundle around Europe where he will be working his way round organic farms. Fair play to the guy and I hope it goes well. He’s clearly put a shed load of effort into planning and preparing for his ride and his website documents his quest. However, cycle touring could not be further from my own brand of cycling obsession.
You see I really, really like to ride my bike. In fact I enjoy riding it ten times more than the things I see as I’m up in the saddle. The whole of 2011 was a quest for the perfect ride as I shagged myself out around the UK trying to chase down the best roads, the hardest climbs and the most thrilling descents. Quite frankly, I bloody hate stopping. I never go down a small lane to look at a neolithic fertility rock and it would be impossible to draw me into a museum of cup cakes.
Touring just is not my thing and ladening my bike up isn’t either. Anything that detracts from the pure riding experience ends up deleted from my two wheeled “todo” list which explains why I rode Lands End to John O’Groats with only a change of clothes and folding shoes stuffed into a bar bag. Even then I cursed the bike’s weight as I tried to climb up onto the Long Mynd like Pantani but felt like Jo Brand instead.
So the two of us have completely separate obsessions and I hope that we can agree to both covet the title in our own separate ways. Because truth be told, even if I had known about the blog title I’d have still used it as the title of my book. It perfectly describes the contents and perfectly describes my continuing obsession with the sport.
However, I’m going to take some preventative measures to ensure that this doesn’t happen again by offering an early public glimpse. There’s a clue about one of my forthcoming titles in this blog already. I’m staying cagey about the name though as I think it is “pinchable” I’m happy to tell you that I’ve also got the following in the pipeline:-
“A long space with ME in the middle” - will be my next Kindle book, I will leave you to guess the rest
“Setting the Record Straight” - is the planned title of my Year Record book
“Sublime LEJOG” - is the piss poor working title of my Land’s End to John O’Groats guide
“My Dad, the Idiot” - is the new book my thirteen year old daughter is currently writing
Sadly the only writing progress this week is the sixteen hundred words you are reading now along with a small chapter that I wrote about Tommy Godwin’s childhood. The rest of the hours have been taken by computer based hackery as Andy and I toil towards the first milestone of our new business. My return to full time programming has necessitated the removal of the swear box from the shed. It’s been a really frustrating week as I’ve discovered that the things I want the computer to do can’t be done in the way I’ve spent two days trying to do them. Days of graceful retreats and optimistic advances have ensued, but I end the week with an app that fires up on my mobile phone screen and proudly announces “Hello World”.
13th April 2012
ps. Forgot to say, I'm buying a new bike soon hahahahahahhahhahhahahahahhahahahhahahahahahahhahahaha!