I Lost the Manuscript

Writing a memoir is a challenging project. One that members of my family and a few friends have hinted at recently: to start putting pen to paper, before I lose the plot. Mainly, I suppose, because of my background and the many ups and downs I have experienced during a lifetime of surprises.

It’s a highly subjective task where a memory bank might release an unexpected flood of memories, from childhood to the present day; some good – some bad, and some that should stay forgotten. Then there are those, where you scratch your head, wondering how you ever recovered from a certain, difficult situation. One of mine is in the last category, a particular literary disaster that is hard to forget.

It was the occasion of my daughter’s planned wedding in Playa del Carmen, Mexico. My wife, Vi, had organised flights from Belfast to stay overnight in a hotel at London’s Heathrow airport, to catch the early morning flight to Cancun. But due to an unannounced change in flight departures, it was a last minute, mad rush to board a coach with our luggage, including a brief case with my Timecrack manuscript.

Only when we were on board the aircraft, did I realise I hadn’t brought the briefcase with me. It contained about three months of handwritten work on a new idea for a time travel science fiction/fantasy novel. Part of which would be based around the pyramids in the Yucatan jungle. As a keen researcher, my plan after the wedding to spend as much time exploring Chichen Itza and the other pyramids, along with delving into the history of the ancient Mayans, had been compromised.

They were the early days in my quest to be an author, and I had yet to master the mysteries of the computer world. A laptop was not on my shopping list, with my writing still stubbornly confined to A4 writing pads. The only backup for a first novel, was my memory and a collection of loose notes on a desk at home.

My intention was to write a series of novels called The Timecrack Adventures, starting with the first book Timecrack, the story of two young brothers in a search for their parents lost in time in another world.

In the following months, I would soon learn that among the many aspects of writing a successful book in terms of readership, must include the essentials: editing and rewriting. In my case, because of the lost manuscript, the original would be rewritten several times before I felt it was ready to be edited by a professional.

Ironically, although the briefcase was never recovered, I believe the loss made for a much-improved series. In the end, that is down to the reader, and I’m delighted that so many kindly took the time to tell me how much they enjoyed the novels.

W.L.

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