Twenty two years old now. Some life experience. Several Big Books under my belt. A Toshiba computer, no printer. I guess some progress had been made.
Enough to be a legitimate novelist? No way. But, as I mentioned, I was writing every day, which is what everyone says you have to do to become a serious writer. Which is very true, I can say in hindsight. An athlete has to train. A writer has to write. If you don’t, you lose something, the groove or motivation or whatever. Because writing’s not easy and sometimes it can be tedious and painful. When you take a break it’s like taking a break from going to the gym. You tell yourself you’ll be back soon enough, but chances are good you’ve seen your last pair of dumbbells.
So I kept writing, no sick days, no vacations. The next novel I started was the only one (not counting the Terry Brooks imitation when I was twelve) which I started but never completed. It was called SPIDER’S WEB, about a guy who got caught up in the Yakuza and got into some major problems. This was based on a true story a friend told me about an English teacher, a Yakuza boss, and the Yakuza boss’s girlfriend. If Write Every Day is the first commandment in the writer’s handbook, Write What You Know is the second. I learned this the hard way. SPIDER’S WEB started off okay, but then I soon found my protagonist entrenched in the shady Japanese underworld which I knew nothing about. Somewhere in the middle-end I realized I had lost the story and put it aside.
Having learned my lesson, I started brainstorming ideas, and came up with a story that involved a telemarketer. It was something I felt comfortable writing about because I’d done a couple mind-numbing stints as a telemarketer in the past. The story revolved around a kid name Richard who got a job for a creepy telemarketing boss who was selling miracle anti-aging pills. Little did Richard know, these pills turned the people into something very bad, and soon the small town had devolved into chaos and savagery. I had a lot of fun writing it. I called the tale THE TELEMARKETER (changed to TELE-DEATH by a freelance editor…a title I never liked and still think sounds like some sort of zombie telethon).
This was my third novel—if you count the almost-finished SPIDER’S WEB—and I decided it was time to send something out to agents. I spent a long time polishing the query letter and synopsis, bought some nice envelopes—big ones, not the standard business size ones—and mailed them off. To my surprise, I actually got a few bites for sample chapters. But no one wanted to digest the whole thing.
No worries, I thought. I was already on the next novel, and still had all the time in the world.
Jeremy Bates has spent the last ten years traveling the world, visiting more than thirty countries. He has lived in Canada, the United States, Australia, Japan, South Korea, and the Philippines. Bates is a graduate of the University of Western Ontario with a degree in English literature and philosophy and is a teacher in international schools. Where’s home for Jeremy? Canada, the United States, and Australia.