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Category Archives: Writing

At the end of 1998, I went freelance as a software developer. My income trebled, the hours were reasonable and I didn’t have to wear a tie. As soon as I saved sufficient money for a deposit, I bought a house. My first house. I joined an exclusive sports club, bought a big new TV and extra sound recording equipment for my home studio. I was fit and young, single and stacked.

Of course, as a freelancer, if I wasn’t working, I wasn’t earning. But I was working, so no problem. I wasn’t completely naive though, I knew that if I did happen to break a leg while skiing in the Alps or fall off the rigging while sailing in the Western Isles, paying the mortgage, gas, electricity and buying food would be a major problem. So I took the precaution of investing in an income protection policy and had a complete health check just to make sure I had everything covered.

My 12-month freelance contract ended and I decided to take a few weeks break for Christmas. A few weeks? But I could, I was a freelancer. I went away for a long weekend to stay with my sister in Vienna. It was bitterly cold but fabulous.

When I got home, there was a message on my answer-phone from my doctor. As with most answer-phone messages, it was garbled but I did understand there was a problem with a blood test result from the health check I’d had recently. I just needed to make a routine appointment to see him and it would be sorted.

The following day I saw my doctor, I was still not at all concerned until he delivered the swingeing body blow. As I sat facing him he said, “I’m afraid it’s not good news. One of the blood test results has revealed you have a condition called Chronic Myeloid Leukaemia.” After the words ‘bad news‘ and ‘leukaemia‘, I heard nothing more. He continued talking but I wasn’t listening. The only thing I knew about leukaemia was that people who had it, died. As he talked, I felt myself heating up and my vision blurred like an untuned TV. I mumbled, “I think I’m going to pass out”. He replied, “No, I don’t think you will.”

As I regained consciousness, images and sounds flashed rapidly through my head. It was so dizzying, it felt like being stuck on a children’s roundabout spinning at a hundred miles per hour. I was caught in this bad dream and couldn’t wake up. These symptoms were familiar from when I’d been seasick during sailing trips and while seasickness is said to be one of the worst feelings, coming round from passing out was just as bad for me. Slowly though, my head cleared and thoughts of dying returned. My doctor led me to another room where I laid across a line of chairs. Then he left me alone for a few minutes.

Alone. Loneliness. That was just one of the emotions that would later come to haunt me.


Many years ago I began waking early each morning and started writing. At first, there was no cohesion. It was scrawl. After a time, maybe a few days or a couple of weeks, I cannot recall, something odd started to happen. Ideas popped into my head, the proverbial light bulb flashed into life. What started as a means of therapy to find some meaning to my life gradually turned into ideas. I liked writing. Furthermore, I believed I could go somewhere with it. My naivety led me to think I could become a ‘proper’ writer.

I began writing short stories, completed a distance-learning course on writing non-fiction and subscribed to Writers’ News and Magazine. It’s then I realised the harsh truth. Most people believe they are the next international best-selling author and most people fall at an early hurdle.

However, just like I still believe one day I’ll be a prolific songwriter much in demand, I also believe that one day I might, just might, get something published.

When I first began writing, I was working in the IT world developing software. It was not very exciting but paid reasonably well. In my early days of software development I could be quite creative. I designed, wrote, tested, documented software and trained others how to use it. Increasingly though, it became a chore. As the software I wrote became more important to the companies I worked for, they, in turn, demanded stricter control of how the software and the documentation was written. The creativity was taken away. Although this was probably the right  course for the companies, I felt starved. That’s why writing in my own time allowed me to explore my ideas.

Then, my life was turned upside down.

Thanks for reading.


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