So, my first finalised manuscript will be published at some point – whether that’s through professional means via an agent and publisher, or whether it’s self-published, I don’t yet know.
I’ve been properly writing now since 2014, and it’s become my primary hobby away from my busy career and my love of rugby. My story will be told – I just don’t yet know by what means.
But when I headed down to London on a business trip, I stumbled across the very pub I’d used for the inspiration that cropped up in my novel several times.
Naturally, it was quite an experience to be there.
So, the way I describe the pub in the book isn’t really befitting of what it’s really like. To be honest, I’m a little harsh in terms of its feel and atmosphere.
It’s actually somewhere local professionals frequent a lot, and I’d merely used it because I’d remembered being there a few years ago on another business trip. In reality, I merely utilised its setting, and I want to make that clear as to not offend the owners and patrons.
That statement will make a lot more sense to anyone who will go on to read my book. It’s a lovely pub!
In my story, the pub is owned by a recurrent character, and it’s a place where my protagonist goes a couple of times as part of his quest. He later returns there; but to say any more would be giving too much away…
How it felt
It was surreal…
I have several partially and fully completed manuscripts, including projects I’m working on now, and projects I intend to work on in the future. But the one I’ll be putting out there first is sort of my baby. It’s the first fully (personally) proofed manuscript I’ll be publishing. I’ve spent more than a year working on it and perfecting it, although it’s the culmination of two and a half years of solid hard work, so I ‘ve been living and breathing the story, the characters, and the setting for a long time now.
To be in a place I actually used for the story was truly emotional.
I sat there, alone, as I had some time to kill before my meeting. I had a couple of pints, and I watched the familiar bartender who I recognised from the time I’d been there before; the time that triggered me to use it as an inspiration in my novel in the first place.
What it was like
To be seated in the very spot my character had spent time in connected me even more to my story. It made it feel even more real. It’s hard to describe and understand unless you’ve created something like that, but all I can say is how amazing it felt. I just kept looking around with a contentedness inside me, and a feeling of elation as I almost inherited my character for a moment, and I imagined the story playing out as I’d created it in my novel.
I took some photos on the sly, because I didn’t want to look odd taking snaps in a random pub in London! I sat there, and I thought: “I’m going to write about this, because I feel it’s an important lesson for other writers about the significance of living the characters you create.”
And so, here I am, writing about my brief experience in that pub.
A chance occurrence
I literally stumbled across it by accident. I’d inadvertently misread the time for the meeting and thought it was taking place at 11:30, when it was actually set for 13:00.
I’m sure you can see how I may have misread that one…
But my train was already booked, so I wandered around and grabbed a bite to eat at a nearby café, and then just strolled around the city to kill some time. And then I saw the front of this little familiar pub, and I felt a wave of excitement as I realised I was staring at the very scenes I’d created in my novel.
So, I went inside, and hoped it was the right place.
As it turned out, it was.
The moral of the story
This may seem like a totally pointless thing to write about, but, for me, it was an experience I’ll never forget. Perhaps it’s hard to understand unless you’ve been in my position where you’ve written a novel, and then been to a place you’d set a scene in or two. My advice to any writer out there is this: if you ever use a place for a scene in your story, make sure you go back there and visit it again.
You’ll understand what I mean when you see those sights, smell those smells, and imagine embodying your character in the very place they had stepped foot in themselves.
I’ve no shame in saying this: it practically reduced me to tears.
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