Count Nicholas Czardas is a blogger I encountered on my previous blogging platform. A rapier wit and the creator of the fiendish Friday Pop Quiz, I delighted in his spars and parries. Over time I got to know the man behind the avatar, who I discovered to be as charming and mysterious as his alter ego. Here, with his permission, is a letter I received from him a few days ago:
Douglas Adams was apparently “moon-lighting as a hotel security guard” in London when he came up with some of the ideas in Hitch-Hikers Guide to the Galaxy. The job paid him to sit and watch the hotel elevators for hours, which gave him time to brainstorm and come up with bizarre, fun ideas (like the useless security guards of Golgafrincham). He also worked as a chicken-coop cleaner, and bodyguard to a Qatari sheik, thanks to his immense bulk- this job, he later explained, was to stand outside the door, bow occasionally, and run if anyone showed up with a hand grenade.
If having a succession of varied and odd jobs is one of the paths to becoming a writer then I certainly have ticked that box (or those boxes), having sold timeshare in the Canary Islands, put up marquee tents all around Britain, owned a small country pub on a crook of the Umgeni river near Wartburg and once attempting to buy a small brewery in Port Alfred with absolutely no funds or experience at all. I have sold Red Bull, and also fridges and I currently own a bakery.
I actually do think, joking aside, that writers tend to either have known that they only ever wanted to be a writer (ala Hemingway or Fitzgerald) or they are successful at another career before turning to writing, often about that earlier career (ala Dick Francis or numerous lawyers and doctors) or they take a sort of middle way like Douglas Adams and bumble around, unfulfilled and doing various and varied other stuff before getting down to writing for a living, either via a stroke of luck, or by realising that that is what they actually should be doing and cutting out the procrastination.
On a whim I once needed to post a comment on what was then blogs.24 and needed to register, and so created the persona of Count Czardas, who as you know evolved from being a shadowy “comments and copy-and-paste only” persona into a more fully fledged blogger. This mostly accidental move has been a good one as it has allowed me to play with various styles of writing and get feedback and develop skills, and it has also channeled my thinking into developing both (Real Name Withheld) and Count Nicholas Czardas into “proper writers” which is why I am enjoying watching Cindy Taylor take a similar path and become more serious in her quest to be a “real writer”.
I was always effortlessly very good at English at school, but never really allowed this part of myself to develop. I had a vague feeling it would be nice to be a writer after captaining the Springboks, making a few million in business and bedding Miss Universe. It took many years (far too many) to realise and put together what should have been obvious, and that is I was never going to captain the Boks or bed Miss Universe (although Czardas might get the latter right and probably has) and the very reason that I was drifting around somewhat aimlessly (and less successfully than I should have been) was not a lack of that lucky break, but I was looking in the wrong direction. I should have been writing, I should have been writing from varsity days, during all those odd career moves, not waiting for success or wealth before getting down to the hard graft of becoming a writer.
And it is hard graft, as you obviously know, it’s not just being creative and putting some words in the right order. It is about structure, and getting a beginning middle and end all to work, and that is the next stage in my development, getting the discipline to plan and plot and actually finish stories. You can go back through my blogs and find many promising and enjoyable beginnings to stories, but now to focus and actually craft a whole.
And so wish me luck and diligence, Cindy Taylor, and I in turn wish you strength to your arm, lots of Merlot and laughter, and the inspiration to be what you want to be. You clearly have much ability as a writer. Cheers.