The creative process is not easy. Sometimes it’s really unpleasant - rather like running an ultra-marathon. At the end however, the figurative sweating and chaffing in awkward areas is deeply satisfying.
I’ve been authored and co-authored three books – Whatever you do don’t run (Tafelberg 2006), A year in the wild (Pan MacMillan 2011) and Back to the bush, another year in the wild (Pan MacMillan 2013).
An inauspicious start …
Writing did not come naturally to me. It began poorly in my first year at school where I recall writing exercises being marginally less painful than the handbag beatings I received from my teacher on the way to and from chapel in the mornings. I didn’t voluntarily write another word for the next 20 years.
One of my tasks as a head ranger was to write a weekly sightings update. I sent the first draft to my father - an offering that was returned with a lengthy postscript lamenting the waste of money my education had clearly been. This process was repeated a further six times until before the 500 word newsletter could be released.
Over the next year or so, I came to look forward to crafting these wilderness snippets from the paradise where I lived and the recriminations from my father declined. Then I happened upon Last Chance to See by Douglas Adams – a chronicle of the plight of various endangered species – a very serious subject. Master that he was, Adams managed to write it in the most hilarious way.
I resolved to infuse humour and lashings of sarcasm in my writing from the day I finished Last Chance to See. Initial attempts proved relatively successful if slightly cheesy. From there I like to think things have improved.