In 2006, I stumbled upon a website called YouWriteOn. It encouraged new writers to submit opening chapters for review. The highest-ranking stories went in front of editors from a major publishing house. My first attempts were (rightly) savaged. Some reviews were so awful that I thought of giving up. And then, one idea took flight. It won the professional nod, and the editor asked for more. It won me a literary agent and was in the running for Book of the Year.
In 2008, The Armchair Bride reached the top ten in the Amazon UK best-selling list. I made enough money to enjoy a very nice holiday and redecorate my flat.
YouWriteOn went the way of so many other peer review websites. The good writers left, and it became a den of talentless infighting. The literary agent lost interest when I failed to offer a second book in anything like the timescale imagined. My confidence crumbled, and I spent four years trying and failing to write something new.
In 2012, I pulled together a short story compilation. It helped sew the seeds for a return to writing. I began to let myself tell stories again, and stopped trying to play by rules that dictated what I could and couldn’t do. Free of writing for others, I did what I should have done all along – I returned to writing for myself.
I decided to write the kind of books I wanted to read.
Just last year, I decided to revisit my first book. I wanted to understand what worked for me then and why people liked what I wrote. The basics were there, but I cringed at the ‘period detail’. The Internet cafes, the fax machines, the admiring talk of a rare mobile phone. To be fair, the cross-dressing subplot needed work too.
And so, a rewrite of The Armchair Bride took hold. At first, just the odd line here and there, but before long, whole chapters went, new ones arrived and the main character evolved. Looking back, I wondered if she might be a little too needy, so I stiffened her spine and handed out sass.
It’s my ‘Director’s Cut’. A revamped Armchair Bride. The 2017 mix.
And if you read it before, please do me the honour of a second chance. If you loved it back then, I hope you’ll like it again. If you saw room for improvement, maybe you’ll agree I’ve done just that. Or perhaps you’ll consider it a load of pish. Either way, it’s free for the next few days.
If you stumble on this after it goes back up to full price, it’s hardly going to burn holes in your pocket, so if you’ve a day or two spare, give it a go, eh?
Online Lisa‘ runs a theatre box office in Manchester. She lives in Scandi-chic minimalistic bliss with her gay best friend. She’s sorted and she knows it.
‘Offline Lisa‘ stumbles from drunken-dating mishap to career-threatening dinner party.
Somewhat the worse for wear at a New Year staff party, Andy and Lisa resolve to change their lives. In the coming year, she’ll find love, and he’ll find fame.
Is her goal closer than she thinks?