It's never too late to write that bestselling first book, just ask our very own Adam Dudding
If everyone has a novel inside them, as the completely untrue cliche has it, then every journalist absolutely believes they have a bestseller residing within them, which would leap unfettered on to the page if only they could find the time amidst the unceasing deadlines.
Here's why they don't.
My colleague and friend Adam Dudding picked up the The EH McCormick Best First Book Award for non-fiction at the Ockham New Zealand Book Awards at the ridiculously advanced age of 46 this week for My Father's Island, his memoir of life with a tyrannous but brilliant father.
It's a fast, engaging read, bouncing along lightly with that duck-on-a-lake illusion of something which came to him in a rather straightforward fashion.
The book is something it feels like we've spent the last millennium discussing on our lunchtime runs, and as reward for this I did manage to extract from him a complimentary copy and the grudgingest of grudging acknowledgements in the finished volume.
Adam tells me it was actually about 2010 when he first developed the idle ambition to write a book. By 2013, he realised said book should be about his dad, the late literary editor Robin Dudding, and by the end of that year he'd begun reading similar journey-around-my-unusual-parentage memoirs and planning his campaign.
Adam being Adam, this generated a graph mapping the path of the book, with time charted on the x axis, the narrative of the book on the y, and floating dotted lines connecting plot themes, allowing him to weave back and forth between the present day and his father's lifespan.
In contrast, I was a few days from deadline with my first book when I realised we had managed to get an entire decade the wrong way around.
By January 2014, he'd begun work on a sample chapter - but it took him until June that year to deliver it (and secure a publishing deal with Victoria University Press).
By 2015, he'd negotiated three months off work and a Creative New Zealand grant to cover his mortgage. By the end of this sabbatical, he had 18,000 words written, with just another 50,000 to go.
These 50,000 words were wedged into gaps on weekends, early mornings, and annual leave spent on writing, not holidaying. It wouldn't be finished until April 2016, and launched until November that year.
- Sunday Star Times