The Rough Draft

So many roads, so little time...

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There's a joke I tell every now and then. "Hindsight is 20/20 and all you see is an asshole." I'm not a huge fan of New Years even though my wife and friends do have a pretty fun time at our annual get together at our friend's house where they host a murder mystery.

This October I was in Spain for my cousin Lucy’s wedding. After seeing a map of the area where the wedding was going to be held, I decided to rent a motorcycle instead of a car. It was the kind of decision that has both benefits and consequences for your travel. For one, you’re really restricted as to what you can bring luggage wise as whatever comes with you will have to be able to be stored on the bike. I also opted to use a supplied helmet rather than bring my own which in hindsight was a mistake. Not because the quality of the supplied helmet was lacking. It was the wrong decision because my helmet has a camera mount on it. So my usual load of thousands of images was reduced to less than twenty because I was far more focused on riding than taking pictures.

I’d also not considered how tired I would be after an eight hour flight followed by an the hours of negotiating Madrid to pick up my bike, transfer my gear onto the bike, find gas for the bike, negotiate how the whole fuel thing is handled in Spain (you pay at the till, not at the pump) and get out of Madrid heading South to Caceres.

The Bike I’d reserved was a Honda CRX700 with a decent set of Givi cases and top box. My gear fit handily inside and I’d brought some rock straps with me to strap down my folded up luggage bag across the back seat. The bike felt relatively light but a little nutless in the power department. The gear spacing felt weird too with a fairly long first gear and a ridiculously short second gear. It also had the largest horn button I’ve ever seen and there were more than a few honks from me by accident before I got my hands figured out on the bars.

Riding through Spain reminded me a lot of the US southern midwest except the trucks were all cab overs and generally sized a lot shorter than the standard semi rig you encounter in North America. Everybody keeps to the right except to pass which was nice and allowed me to make good time heading towards Banos de Montemayor, my destination for the day and what was going to be my place of residence for the next few days while I got acquainted with my cousin and her husband to be.

You don’t realize how well tuned you are to your own bike until you have to ride something else for a while. I’ve got a set of forward highway pegs that let me stretch out my legs on my Strom and I really began to miss them about two hours into my ride. I was also on a stock seat. Which to be fair, wasn’t bad but I could tell, too much of it was going to hurt me (something that was going to prove only too true later). The CRX had a couple of other minor irritants. It took me a few minutes to figure out where the gas cap was. My bike’s old school and the tank is the tank. On the CRX, the tank is just a cover for a place to store your helmet or in my case, my camera bag. The real tank was under my ass and the gas cap was under the pillion seat. When I raised the point to the rental agency, the guy said, I looked like I knew what I was about, so he wasn’t worried about it. Fair cop to him I guess. Still, no hand guards or grip heaters and a tiny windshield. All the joys of riding a basically naked bike.

I had opted for a GPS from the rental company and they were able to provide me with a very basic Garmin, stuck to my tank with a suction cup and further secured with some wire, “Just in case.” A far cry from my Zumo 600 but good enough to get me where I needed to be.

Banos De Montemayor lay at the bottom of a valley. The town had buildings with capstones dating from 1792 and you got the feeling it had been there a while. It’s very much the sort of place you walk around. My lodgings were in the center of the town, literally round the corner from where my cousin and her friends were having an afternoon drink at one of the numerous cantinas.

The streets were really narrow and fairly steep. Even on the motorcycle, parking was… interesting and scarce. Scarce enough I ended up storing the bike in a shed for three days and hoofing it everywhere.

More to come…

Devil’s Ante is now available on Amazon and in another month or so, it’ll also be available in audiobook format in wide publication. I’ll admit, I was a bit nervous going in to audiobooks but so far it’s been an interesting and enlightening experience. I’ve also met (at least in the web sense) some really interesting and talented people. Which makes me think I may try some other audio projects not related to books in the future.

I’ve got a running joke about my life. “What I love about all of this is the glamour.”

It’s hard to talk about yourself and not sound like a grandiose asshole. Believe me, I know I’m not the most interesting person in the room at any given moment. As a writer it’s never a good idea to be that person anyway. We need to be able to talk to people, get them to open up to us and then exploit their life experiences in print for the benefit of our characters and stories.

I know most people look at anything in the arts as a bit of a lark. The easy way. For some reason they see anything creative as wasting your time, when you could be doing something worthwhile.

I’ll be honest, it pisses me off. Every creative person I know is a grinder. They work day after day in every spare second they have to create, be it writing, directing or art. It’s anything but easy.

The second you say you’re going to do something creative the universe aligns against you and you start the fight of your life. Every project is hard and full of pitfalls and sacrifices. My wife is used to watching television alone at night because I’m writing and then there’s the amount of time on top of all of that doing, “This.” The social media aspect of it all. The part most writers don’t want to do because at our core, we are very private people and exposing bits of yourself online feels pretty dangerous.

Personally, I don’t really give a shit. People have opinions and the internet lets them share those opinions no matter how nuts or misogynist they might be. I’ve tried to make a point to only post positive stuff to the web as of late. Do I complain about shit? Are there things that make me sad for humanity? Sure. I just don’t see the point of feeding that particular wolf.

The world is a beautiful place. Sometimes you just need to stop, look around and realise this.

2016 has been a bizarre year for me. I completed a trip that I’m still running through my head. I changed jobs and then my new job in a small company became a new job in a giant multinational when we got taken over. To make it even weirder, the giant multinational is treating me better than any company I’ve ever been involved with my whole life. And being Scottish, this feels very weird.

But getting back to the art, specifically the writing side of things.

I’m working my way through the edit of Devil’s Ante, once that’s done, it goes off to my editor to start the main edit. I’m pushing for a December release. Hopefully it does better than Reliance but even if it doesn’t that’s fine. I’m writing because I want to tell the story. Money’s nice but it should never be the reason you do something you love. I’m also almost through the first act of my new script, “The Chosen Ones.” That story, based on true events is like juggling live electricity and for the first time in a very long time, I’m enjoying working on a screenplay.

Weird as it has been, I’m looking forward to what comes next.