Friday, November 8, 2013


Nothing like an excuse to post a link to one of my favourite Tom Waits songs: November. So, anyway, do you remember what was happening in your life five years ago to this day? No, of course you don’t, because November 8th 2008 was, more than likely, “just another day” for you, wasn’t it? For me, on the other hand, 08-11-08 – “Eight, Eleven, Eight” – was a very special date for very different reasons...

For a start, it’s the date Mike’s Milestones was born - basically because I preferred that title to Writer’s Crap Diary Notes. Here’s how my entry began that day:

Decide to write novel
Choose title: dayrealing (small case)
Prefer simple “-ing” titles, like Trainspotting or Nightswimming
Want sth. memorable, easy to say, suggestive & original
Buy notebooks & pens
Start planning contents:
Teacher (Colin) whose life is a disaster, etc. (semi-autobiographical)...

And it goes on in a similarly exciting vein for several lines. My narcissistic self reasoned that if I was going to write a bestseller, get rich and famous and so on, then sooner or later my adoring fans – ha ha! – would want to know how it all started, read all those soulless rejection letters, empathise with me and my excruciating pain, et cetera, et cetera, et cetera.

Amazingly, I did write that book! It took me about a year to write and involved getting up every day at 3 a.m. At weekends, I had a lie-in and started at 4 a.m. Yes, it absolutely killed me. How I suffered for my art! Even more amazingly, after about 40 rejection letters or so, I found a wonderful publisher with two screws missing who was happy to put his name to my rubbish.

So now, five years on, it seemed like a good moment to take stock, to see how my life has been transformed since that momentous day in history. Except it hasn’t, of course, has it? Basically, here’s the sequence of events since dayrealing hit the market:

  • 6 kind friends wrote glowing five-star reviews.
  • 5 thousand people downloaded free copies to their Kindle.
  • 4 strangers actually read the book.
  • 3 years later, we tried changing the cover and title to Huh?

  • 2 heartless bastards delightful ladies laid into me over on Goodreads:

  •  1 discerning dude defended me on Amazon: 

I love Darren! I think his review absolutely nails it, don’t you?

In the meantime, my wife keeps telling me to pull myself together and “write a proper book”. I will one day, if I can only find the time, energy and something actually worth writing about.  

08-11-08 is also the day I received a call out of the blue from my little sister:

Receive call from Sue: expecting twins for late May / early June 2009

Beautiful boys, aren’t they! And notice how my sister always manages to take photos of her boys with photos of her boys in the background at the same time.

So, anyway, I decided to mark these milestones by getting up this morning at 3 a.m., writing this blog entry, and adding this simple entry to Mike's Milestones:

Mike's Milestones celebrates its 5th anniversary

Thanks for reading!

            Choosing a title was the next battle. Sir Colin? Lord Raphead? Colin had noticed that people were suckers for one highly unoriginal formula in particular: The X (who / with / in . . . ): The Book Thief; The Time Traveler’s Wife; The Woman Who Walked into Doors; The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo; The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas . . . The list was endless. The formula was a doddle, and Colin had no problems generating candidates for his forthcoming blockbuster: The Dyslexic Director of Studies . . . The Twit Who Thought He Could Teach . . . The Man with the Battered Briefcase . . . The Really Old Student in the Bright Pink Stockings . . .  The Silly Sod Who Wrote a Load of Bollocks and Got Away with It (and Them) . . .
            Whilst it was reassuring to know that he had a guaranteed best-seller formula to fall back on, Colin would have preferred something simpler and snappier if only because it would look better on the spine (of the book; not his own). Whether it be the title of a book, film, song or whatever, Colin soon realised – and don’t ask why – that he had a penchant for three-syllable activities ending in “–ing”. Why? He just did, OK? Ice Skating, Home Shopping, Name Dropping . . . Admittedly, those were pretty naff titles, but the quirkier the activity, the better the resulting title seemed to be; to Colin’s ears at least. And if you could combine the two words into one, you were definitely on to a winner in Colin’s book. Sleepwalking, Trainspotting, Nightswimming . . . they could hardly fail, could they?
            Thus was born dayrealing; a bloody stupid name for a book if ever there were one.

            dayrealing, Chapter 45, “Wonderful Life”

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