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Writing as a hobby

Everything in life is an opportunity or a threat, a positive
or a negative, good or bad, depending on how you look at it.

Initially when I found myself unemployed for the first time in my life in 2008, I had a great deal of trouble seeing or finding anything good in the situation, but there was a positive benefit of being unemployed.

If I hadn't become unemployed I doubt I would have had the time to think about, or pursue my interest of trying to write a book. The enjoyment I have received from writing so far makes me believe that if I stopped now and did no more, it would be among the most rewarding personal experiences I've ever had.

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I quickly began to realize that there was a lot more to having a story in my mind and getting it written than I could have imagined.

From a basic outline of a story, I found there was a large amount of supporting information I needed to know to have any hope of making my story credible and hopefully interesting.

To help visualize the information while I was writing I started to use a small notice board, this quickly expanded to a second computer screen to allow me to bring up information in the internet.

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I have no idea how anyone could write a book without the aid of computers and the internet.

The computers I used are not new, in fact they would struggle to run many of the newer programs and operating systems that are common today.

With my basic system, I'm able to have a word processing program, a spreadsheet program and a web browser all operating at the same time. Despite the apparent clutter around my workstation, I've found organization is important to maintain any hope of keeping my sanity.

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When I started to work on my current project "State mail special delivery" (SMSD) I found I needed a bigger notice board to help visualize and organize my information.

A lot of the information I need, is just that, information I need that wont be seen by anyone else.

In SMSD for me to write about my primary character Stewart Graham to deliver his state mail on his deliver route, I first had to make up a realistic delivery route. I started by looking at maps of Salem and working out a possible delivery route that would fit a generally realistic time.

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Most of the buildings and locations I used are actual government offices although I have changed most of the names to agencies that are not in Salem, or are completely fictitious.

The internet was very useful and I was able to plan and construct the route while sitting at home. Websites and programs such as www.mapquest.com and Google Earth street view were especially invaluable.

As I started to become happy with my fictitious delivery route I then spent time driving the route to check driving times and distances.

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When I was satisfied with the fictitious delivery route, I then went out and drove the route taking pictures of the buildings I planed to place the various offices and departments in.

When I had the locations and pictures I then made my map and put it on the notice board with the pictures and the corresponding locations marked.

Some of the locations mentioned in the book are buildings not use by the government, while I make references to some general locations that are also fictitious.

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Although many of the locations in the story are fictitious there was one real location I wanted to use. I emailed the owners of the business and they graciously allowed me to use their true business name. When the first draft is finished and they have had an opportunity to see the references I make to their business I'll put a picture of their business here on our website.

The City of Salem is fairly compact and made developing my delivery route fairly easy. Even on the busiest traffic days it's still pleasant to drive around in comparison to some other cities I've visited, including Portland Oregon. Most of the delivery action takes place in and around downtown Salem.

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When I first started to read up on how to go about writing a book, on of the things mentioned related to character development. I was initially skeptical when I read that a writer can become very attached to the characters they create.

In developing my characters I found I needed to amass a great deal of information to make those characters real to me so I could write about and develop them. I found the experience of killing off the first three characters in one of my books quite emotional and upsetting.

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Although I needed to purchase some reference books and other odds and ends, now I'm set up, it doesn't really cost me much money to enjoy my hobby. The table on the left shows it has cost me around 75 per hour to enjoy myself.

That amount isn't much in dollars and cents to pursue my writing, but I'm starting to see more late nights/early mornings than I have for a long time. I think the last time in my life I was still up at these early hours of the morning I was delivering bread to supermarkets in Australia.

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It's very rare that any important project can be successful without support and assistance.

Without Conda's assistance and patience to allow me to indulge myself writing I would have missed a great deal of enjoyment and happiness.

Tiger is almost always ready to help also, but likes to pace himself. A tail wafting back and forwards over the keyboard or sitting in front of the screen to have a wash isn't generally recognized as the best productivity aids.