So, somewhat astonishingly, I wrote a book. And presumably—even more astonishingly—you just finished reading it (thanks, I hope you liked it).
One of the main reasons I started on The Four Baristas was to find out whether I could write a book. I had made several half-hearted attempts at novels in the past, but never gotten past a handful of chapters. Real life became too busy, my enthusiasm waned, and invariably, these sad, little proto-novels just kind of fizzled out.
For some completely unjustified reason, I had always assumed that I would get there, one day—the problem lay with the actual mechanics of making it happen. So, early in 2017, I decided that the time had come. It was now or never. Or, you know, later. But preferably, now.
I committed to writing at least two hundred words per day. It doesn't sound like a lot, but that was kind of the point—I didn't want to be daunted, every time I sat down at the computer. I figured that if I wrote at least something every day, well then, eventually I would have a book. Yes, I really was (am?) that dumb.
And I thought, let's do it on Wattpad. That way, wherever I happened to be, provided I had a device handy, I could write—no excuses.
So, I started. I wrote my minimum two hundred words (occasionally a little less, frequently quite a bit more) every day. With with no real writing experience, with only the vaguest idea of a plot, without really having any clear idea as to what I was doing, I wrote.
I knew it was going to be an alien invasion story. I knew there would be a small group of humans fighting back against the invaders. I knew these humans would be granted super-powers.
What I didn't know was that I would be completely incapable of taking the whole thing seriously.
Oh, I tried. The Four Baristas of the Apocalypse started life as simply The Four, and was going to be—believe it or not—a serious work. Honestly. The problem was that I had to keep resisting the urge to be, well—a little less than serious.
And I did resist, for about a chapter. And then I started to wonder why I was resisting. I wasn't writing for a publisher, I wasn't writing for assessment, I wasn't writing for a living—I was writing for me. For fun. For the (very) few readers who took a look at the first couple of chapters. If I wanted to be a little less than serious, well then—why not? After all, I like non-serious sci-fi.
Not that I was trying to be funny. Which may sound a little strange coming from an author who has written an allegedly humorous sci-fi tale. But I wasn't. I don't think I could write a joke if I tried for a week; at least not a good one, anyway. I don't really do jokes, or at least not intentionally. I found that what I enjoy is irreverence. Surprise. Unexpected consequences. Interesting characters, with unusual traits, thrown into unconventional situations. Sometimes, as a nice surprise, humour arises from these situations.
And so the world's saviours became baristas, their hologrammatic friend developed terrible fashion sense and an inability to swear properly, their nemesis acquired a Napoleon complex and a serious temper, the Australian PM became a functional (well, sort of) alcoholic, and so on (and on). I had discovered how and what I like to write.
And then, Wattpad gave me people. People who, to my surprise, were reading what I had written. Reading, voting and commenting. It's impossible to overstate how much this meant. One of the reasons my previous writing attempts had failed was the complete and utter lack of this kind of interaction. Writing on a word processor, the only person who cared whether I wrote the next chapter was me. On Wattpad, there were other people who cared. Not many, at least not in the early stages. But some. And those precious few kept me going.
Real life tried to get in the way (stupid real life)—a family, working full-time, running my own business, a post-grad course, etc. There were times when I wasn't sure that I could continue. But as I came to know the characters, as the plot continued to develop in my head, and as readers continued to invest in the story, I found that I really wanted to keep going. I wanted to make it to the end. So, late at night, on weekends, during lunchtimes at work, and whenever I could scrounge a spare few minutes, I wrote.
And, here we are. And I do mean 'we'. We finished the book. We won a Watty. I couldn't have done it without you guys. Thanks to all of you—to every last person who consciously gave up some of their precious time to check in on the baristas (extra big thanks to the ones who did it unconsciously).
It's not Shakespeare. It's not Adams. It's not Pratchett. It rambles at times, the second half is better than the first, I only discovered what an em-dash was midway through, and it's in need of some serious editing. In short, it's a first novel and it's far from perfect. But it's my first novel, and I love every last flawed word of it. Except for 'bureaucracy' which I can never remember how to spell.
I'm worried about thanking individuals because I'm sure I'll forget somebody, but here's a start. Thank you to: -
I will add more worthy peeps, as and when they occur to me and/or abuse me for forgetting them. My excuse is that I'm writing this late at night, and really should be in bed.
If you've made it this far, then you qualify as 4BA alumni, so please say hi in the comments—it's reassuring to know there's more of us out there.
Obviously the ending of the book leaves open the option of a sequel. I have a few ideas, and I suspect I wouldn't feel right leaving things as they are, so we'll see whether I can wrangle real life into letting it happen. Fingers crossed.
Hasta barista, baby.
YOU ARE READING
The Four Baristas of the ApocalypseScience Fiction
In the Earth's darkest hour, unexpected heroes are stirring. Stirring their coffee, that is. When aliens invade, four baristas on a camping trip hardly seem the most likely saviours of the world. But thanks to a hologram with no fashion sense, some...