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Thursday, February 13, 2014

The path to publication (1d)...........................Rule Number 5 - No Sex on the Bus

I returned to Europe for my second summer season in 2000. Foot and mouth had broken out across the UK, leading to cancelled parades for St Patrick's Day in Ireland, and millions of culled sheep and cattle. On tour it seemed that everyone had a special diet of 'no red meat' and chicken became the norm for most meals. Once again I didn't keep a personal diary during the season, but I did have my work diary, and I jotted down a few points to remind me of the funnier - and stranger - parts of my season. I was ready, set to return to Australia at the end of the season, write it all up and publish my story. Then bloody Brian Thacker came out and published his story. About life as a tour manager. In Europe. Published by Allen & Unwin. Read by everyone on tour and all road crew. He'd beaten me to it, damn him. I remember reading his book and really enjoying it; double damn. What's the point, I thought to myself. There's no need for me to write up my stories anymore, he's done it all. When I got back to Australia I halfheartedly typed up a couple of pages of headings, prompts about different stories. Then I left it. That would have been the end, except for one little thing - I don't like giving up once I get my mind set on something. So every year after that, at the end of the season, I typed up a few more pages, the briefest of notes, simply to jog my memory. I left it at that, and focussed on having a fantastic time on tour. The fantastic times were hard to say goodbye to, and I didn't manage to tear myself away from touring life until the end of 2004. With a place in a university course and a plan to start afresh in a new field, not returning to my pre-touring life as a lawyer, I was set. Then I started to struggle. Moving back to Perth was like the worst way to move to a new city. It was quieter than Melbourne or Sydney, where nightlife doesn't evaporate just because it's a Monday. It was a place I felt at home, because it had been my home - but in the meantime, the six years I'd been away, the friends and family I'd left behind had not been in stasis. Instead they'd lived their lives, lives which right now didn't have much room to fit in a post-travelling, still-partying 30 something who couldn't sit still. Where were my group of 50 buddies to go out with on a Tuesday? What was I thinking, coming home, chucking aside that amazing lifestyle? I stared at the walls of my flat and felt glum. Then, one of those friends, who was very busy with her family and kids, had a night out. One of my friends was eager to know how I was getting on with all the stories that I'd said I would one day write up. 'Have you started your book yet? I'd love to read it,' she said. She was sitting next to a random new friend of the birthday girl, and she mentioned that she too was writing a book. 'I've got a couple of friends who meet up once a month to review and critique each other's work. It's basically an excuse to drink wine. Would you like to come along?' I would. I did. But what happened at that first meeting led me to sulk for the next 7 months, until eventually I was ready to listen.

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