MY NAME is Nick Rippington and I am an author. There I’ve said it. The fact that I haven’t published anything as yet will not deter me.
I have been hiding my shame for too long. Up until now, when people have asked me who I am and what I do the words just won’t come out. I want to tell them I write novels, but stutter over the answer before eventually blurting out “journalist.”
It’s not a lie. For 35 years newspapers have been my day job. I’ve worked on small, country titles where every headline began “Ye Olde” and the sub-editing standards were such that an alarming rape case was once labelled “Unacceptable Behaviour By Youth”. From there I moved on to evening newspaper titles in larger towns, beginning with the salubrious post of Wrexham Football Writer on the Evening Leader followed by a sports writer/sub-editor on the Swansea Evening Post.
To complete the Welsh triumvirate, I later became sports editor at the Wales on Sunday newspaper in Cardiff before eventually trying my hand on the nationals.
In all, I’ve worked for six different national titles at all ends of the spectrum from the broadsheet Independent and Independent on Sunday to the red-top tabloids before reaching what I perceived to be the peak of my career: Welsh Sports Editor on the biggest newspaper in Europe at the time – The News of the World.
I know what you’re thinking, but I arrived too late to do the Phone Hacking courses and I can assure you I’m not the Fake Sheikh. To tell you the truth I thought I was made. The novels went on the back burner as I set about my task. Then the phone call came while I was on a hard-earned week off. “Mate, they are shutting down your paper in 48 hours,” said a pal as I juggled baby and cooking dinner (not literally juggled, you understand, that would be a tad dangerous). I called him a liar but when he told me to turn on News24 but there it was in full technicolour: Rupert Murdoch announces he is shutting down the News of the World.
I never went back into the building. The police marched in to confiscate my computer so that they could fully analyse my Fantasy Football selections, while I was handed all my worldly goods in a black binliner at a poorly attended ceremony in a Wapping car park.
Perhaps, with hindsight, I should have taken my redundancy and written that bestseller. It was too scary, though. Instead I threw myself on the kindness of strangers (and, more to the point, begged friends) in order to get casual work on the Daily Star and the Daily Star Sunday. Well, I had a wife Liz and young baby to support.
That was three years ago. Since then we have moved to London and I am finding enough down time to write purely for myself. I have written, polished and edited a novel “Crossing the Whitewash” and I am determined to publish it. Five agents have already turned me down, but publish and be damned I say. I’m getting advice from all sides and filtering through it to decide what is the best way to go, the most economic but most professional.
In the early hours of this morning I decided people might like to share my journey. This blog is going to be about every step of the process from the first line I wrote to the finished article and on to the marketing, sales etc. I will link you in to aborted efforts, earlier novel attempts, comments from ‘experts’, useful books, helpful people, organisations and websites, bad advice, distractions, sleepless nights and costs. I hope you enjoy the ride…