Why you should write a book. And do all the other stuff you ever wanted to do.
By Scott Simpson. Author of “Unity”.
Life is short. Like really really short. I know 80 years seems like plenty of time but it really isn’t. Especially when a learner driver taking selfies (#justgotmylicense) or an errant cancer cell can turn that 80 into a much smaller number. In order to maximise the little amount of time we’ve all been given I am a big believer in “Bucket Lists”. This list doesn’t necessarily have to be written down, in your head is just fine so long as you find yourself referring to it occasionally. My personal bucket list consists of things I’ve already been lucky enough to achieve such as travel whenever and wherever possible, find and marry an amazing woman, learn to paraglide (thanks Bitcoin!) as well as a host of thing still to come, own my own beach resort, buy a sailboat and learn to sail, have kids and be as good a father to them as my own was to me.
While these big life goals such as starting a family or retiring while still able to control your own bowels should absolutely be concrete goals that you actively work towards it is as important to maintain a list of smaller, more easily achievable goals. Who hasn’t experienced the following: It’s Friday and you’re driving home from work! It’s the weekend and you can’t wait for a couple day’s of fun and relaxation. You get home, throw on some PJ’s, crack a beer and suddenly it’s Sunday night. You can’t work out how this happened. You think about the last 48 hours and vague memories of pizza delivery and 3 seasons of Park & Rec run through your mind and before you know it it’s Monday morning and your’e heading back into the office. My biggest fear is laying on my death-bed (hopefully at the ripe old age of 114) and having this feeling, the feeling that days that held such promise were squandered because I kept waiting for life to start and I just sort of muddied my way through all the while waiting for something that always lay just around the corner.
A little over a year ago I immigrated to the United States to join my wife who I had first met years earlier while working on Cruise Ships in the Mediterranean. When I arrived in the States I had to wait around 3 months for Trump to complete my paperwork allowing me to live and work in the country. Three months legally not being allowed to work at the age of thirty was something I had certainly not predicted. Having an incredible wife who had a great job I saw this mandatory sabbatical as a great opportunity to revisit my mental bucket list and make sure I didn’t squander this time on Judge Judy marathons and Candy Crush. I went through my list and while financial constraints ruled out a couple of the options (Eg Sailboat) I settled on item number 17, write and publish a book. Also, it may not have been item 17, I don’t actually number them.
My parents, being the saints they are, patiently put me through six years of University while I tried to figure out exactly what it was that I wanted to do with my life. Four of these six years saw me complete 876 cases of Black Label beer, 23 breakdowns in my 1987 Renault 5 and most importantly an honors degree in Journalism. Armed with this degree and a fridge stocked with the nearest thing to Black Label America had to offer (PBR) I sat down and started writing. The story behind what would eventually get published as Unity actually first started bumping around my head when I was around 8 years old. An epic tale of a scientific experiment gone wrong, global devastation and a group of heroes and villains locked in a bloody battle that would ultimately decide the fate of humanity. While I had previously written a great deal this had almost exclusively consisted of news copy for newspapers and websites, this was to be my first foray into the world of the novel.
Not knowing how to begin I simply sat down and started writing. I wrote the very first paragraph and then skipped ahead to the end. I knew how I wanted to end the book and so it seemed logical to write that first. With the (epic) conclusion done I then jumped around the timeline of the book writing and rewriting chapter after chapter as new ideas and ever more intricate plot twists sprang to mind. Characters were written in and out with abandon. I made a conscious decision not to be guided by any particular genre while writing. This meant sweeping love stories met violence and bloodshed while heroic battles and unnecessary sex and gratuitous nudity appeared at random intervals. Long story short, each day I sat for a couple of hours and had fun.
The book that emerged was fantastic. Honestly I’m not just saying that because I wrote it, it is an incredible novel. I never wrote Unity with the intention of throwing money behind marketing it and doing everything in my power to get it on to the New York Times Best Seller List (although God knows it belongs there). I wrote it because it was on my bucket list and it was something that I can now be proud of, something my great grand kids can buy off Amazon in 2076 by which time I am sure the company will be fully self-aware and we will all be citizens of The United States of Amazon. My point is that make sure you do the things you have always wanted to do. Every few months I now get a little royalty check from Amazon and while the amount is certainly not going to buy me my sailboat or beach resort it is always a pleasant reminder, a tangible proof that I ticked something off my list.
Two very cheesy sayings that have been beaten to death but that I will kick one last time: “Every day is a gift” and “Life is what happens while you are busy making other plans”. You have all read these inspirational quotes backgrounded by sunsets on your friend Carly’s Facebook page but don’t take for granted the message behind them. Life is short. Take responsibility for the events that make up your life and your happiness. Write your bucket list and actively take steps to work your way through it. There is always a reason not to do something, to wait for a better time. Don’t be that person that wakes up on their drive in to work on their last ever Monday morning wondering what happened to their weekend. Whatever your “book” is, write it.