‘I Am an Author’ by Myron Edwards
My name is Myron Edwards and I am an author, it has been one month twenty-eight days, and fourteen minutes since my last piece. Like so many authors I started small. I got roped into it by a mate of mine who I played drums with in a rock band. He had a friend who wanted some help with his hospital radio show. Now I confess I had never written anything before, but I thought why not. It started with shorts, just simple one-liners, before moving on to longer sketches. What was particularly good was that we got to perform them on air. I suppose that gave me the bug.
A consequence of our writing was that we had a lot of surplus material and we were unsure as to what to do with it. This next stage was the beginning of my addiction, one of the places we submitted our material to, was ‘The Two Ronnie’s at the time one of Britain’s greatest comedy duo’s and our material got on, at no less than the Christmas show, okay it was just a one-liner but it went out to over 50 million people on Christmas Eve.
From then on I was hooked. Following the success of the ‘Ronnie’s’ we both needed more we started on ‘Hudd Lines’ a radio show with a wonderful comedian and actor Roy Hudd who fronted the show. This quickly became a habit, as we would work over the weekends and then rush to the BBC in Portland Place for the material to be accepted. The main Producer at the time was John Lloyd MBE, he was ex Cambridge and was a real help to us. He encouraged us all the way and we kept producing.
John went on to produce shows like ‘Not the Nine O Clock News’ which we also contributed, to ‘Black Adder’ which is also one of his. By now our names appeared on credits regularly and it would be no problem for me to get through at least ten to fifteen one-liners a session. ‘Hudd Lines’ was great but I wanted to try something different, maybe something a little stronger. I settled on ‘Weekending’ , a satirical show that was broadcast on a Friday. It was Produced by Gryth Rhys Jones who went on to star in ‘NTNON’ and ‘Smith and Jones’ among many other programmes. The late Douglas Adams of ‘‘Hiker’s Guide to the Galaxy’ also produced ‘Weekending ‘shows and he used my stuff.
My routine now extended to Sunday night check for stories and write them, Monday up to the BBC for script approval, Wednesday broadcast Paris Studios Regent St, to check on material submitted, Thursday ‘Weekending’ script submission, Friday back to Paris studios for broadcast. As you can see my obsession was beginning to take over, I had a delicate balance between my working life and my writing one, I tried to keep it hidden for a while, not admitting to too much material at a time, but eventually, my work began to suffer. I thought I would try to do it alone, maybe if I wasn’t so dependent on just these shows I could be more selective, it worked for a while when I got picked up by Scottish TV for a new show ‘A Kick up the 80’s’ starring Tracey Ullman, but my plan backfired with the success of the show and I was soon back on the wagon, my efforts to break away quashed.
At the time I was a travel agent and I was employed at JWT one of the World’s biggest Ad agencies then. My role was travel Manager looking after the needs of the agency. Several of the creative guys asked me about my writing for the BBC and one even suggested I should look to become a copywriter. To be frank, I had no idea what that meant, but he explained that if I could think from an advertising kind of way about products in the same way I did my comedy, I might be successful. So he suggested taking the copy test. He stressed it was not easy and no one had passed it in three years, so I thought why not maybe this would be a good way to channel my addiction and earn good bucks from it too. I discussed it with my then-wife, who said as long as the mortgage was paid she didn’t care.
I passed. Unbelievably my test was one of the best they had ever seen and I was invited to submit some ads from previous campaigns and change them. I did that and with these and the copy test combined I got elevated literally to the third floor to what was described to me as the ‘Cradle of Creativity’ and even though I was the latest ‘baby’ at 27, I felt proud to be there, for this is where the doyens of the ad world held court.
Coming from the ground floor and in a suit as well, my usual attire, I felt like a square peg in a round hole, as the residents seemed to have abandoned all dress codes and wore exactly what they wanted, mostly jeans, and T-shirts, trainers or boots. My immediate boss was a leading light in the ad world, Terry Howard, who is a direct descendant of Catherine Howard, wife of Henry the Eighth. Terry was a creative genius; he had created so many great ads and campaigns that his wall was adorned with countless numbers of framed awards. To be selected as a protégé of this man was a real privilege. I was given my first brief a dog food commercial. Within 10 days of arriving in the Creative Department, I had my first TV commercial.
My mood was set. I had come into a world that I liked, I could prosper here in more ways than one and I could hone my addiction to the way I wanted it to be rather than let it dictate to me. All was going so well, until BANG!
STRIKE! For the first time in commercial television history ITV went on strike, it was a strike that would last three months. Most of JWT’s revenue was from TV ads, losing that left a massive chunk in their finances, and the only advertising left was radio, press, or posters. I was kept on for a year, but like a few of us let go when the realisation of the strike hit home.
The next few years pushed me back into the travel business, and although I tried to move away from writing, something always dragged me back. By now I had developed an idea for a new form of walking map that would help commuters in London, it was called Tubewalking, an easy way to get from A-B using a Taxi driver’s knowledge of London streets.
I also had my first child, and my wife was not in favour of me taking this venture forward, so much so that she saw a huge gap in our relationship and sued for a divorce.
I moved out but also pursued my venture, I would try to make Tubewalking a success and to a certain extent it was, money was raised for charity and more map books were produced. Sales were good but we never quite reached the potential that the idea had. The odd thing is that even today the premise remains a valid solution to congestion or strikes.
So whilst Tubewalking gave me an escape from my writing in one form or another, I knew deep down that something somewhere would happen that would put me back to where I began. It happened one summer on a visit to Cyprus, the home of my future wife’s family. Cyprus is famous for several things, Haloumi, Cheese, Commandaria a dessert wine, its wonderful climate, gorgeous beaches, and Aphrodite the Goddess of Love, the symbol of the island.
One of the most visited sites is Petra Tou Romiou, her so-called birthplace where she rose from the foam into legend.
I wanted to see the place, having heard so much about it, so we went to a restaurant close by for lunch. I looked around at the usual collection of tourist stuff, and I felt decidedly unimpressed. Why could anyone think that these collections of rocks in the water could have any significance to the Goddess of Love? It was then my obsession began again, for on the wall was a picture taken from the air of a figure in the sea, it set off in me a sense of belonging, a sense of all that I had tried to control, was now out of control, my mind could not control the energy flowing through it. Some people have an epiphany moment in their life, this was mine. I knew I had to write it, I had to get it down. But I would need to do it in stages, I could not rush it.
The real break came when we decided as a family to move permanently to Cyprus. This was my catalyst; I could finally get these imaginings out of my mind. The more I learned about the island the more I soaked up the history. I wrote the screenplay, and there it was done. Perhaps the spirits that inhabited my waking hours would now leave me alone. But I was wrong. After people read it they suggested that a book might be the way to go. I agreed, so I wrote a book, one copy to give to my wife for a Christmas present. She read it and passed it on, now things went quickly, I was told that I should get it published. I found a publisher in Nicosia, the capital, I sent the synopsis to him, he asked for the manuscript, and the next week we were signing contracts to have the book published not just in English but in Greek.
The publicity bad wagon rolled out, newspapers, and radio, all picked up the story and one British Film Company wanted to make the movie. My passion was rocking. And just like my JWT experience BANG, it all stopped. Cyprus was embroiled in a financial crisis and everyone pulled the plug. My euphoria evaporated, in a flash. I had a contract that I needed to see through to the end, even as by now the publisher had gone bust.
I was in remission, save for one thing, my job, because I was managing two demons, my book and my job, that being as a Creative Director for a leading Limassol ad agency. Intent on keeping concentrated on my work, I was able to control it better for a little while, writing in English and then having it translated into Greek did pose its problems, but as my TV commercials were mainly visual I got away with it. That is until a fire destroyed it all. Overnight the building next door caught fire and gutted our roof. WE were finished. And I was redundant.
It was then I turned back to writing, I had tried to keep my thoughts about putting pen to paper, or fingers to keyboard away, but it was now so difficult to resist as more and more thoughts raged in my head. Like most writers I slunk away into my private world, locking myself away to churn out words hundreds and thousands of them, and build them into the sequel to my first book that I knew I had no control over. Night after night I would drift into the bedroom, alone with my thoughts oblivious to those around me. How I wanted to be a part of them, but I knew that until I had unleashed the demon from my mind I had to stay alone. Eventually, book two was finished, now with my former contract ended, I needed to find a new publisher. I contacted James Hill of Rockhill Publishing in the USA and told him about my books and he said he would be interested. I sent him my material and he liked the book and decided to offer me a contract on a pay-on-demand basis.
Soon after the first book was published, with the second due out the following year. I was trying to keep a lid on my writing with two books done, but somehow the story wasn’t finished, it just kept nagging at me that I needed to end it, I needed to finish it, and only then could I be free, or could hope to be. Book three came easily it rounded everything up and it helped me to come to terms with my addiction because I freely admit that is what it is,
Today, now with three books on the shelf, I have been trying to relax more, I have found a sponsor and she has guided me with my writing, so much so that she is looking to present a children’s book I wrote recently.
I have come a long way since those early days at the BBC. I have made many sacrifices, some of which I regret, but through it all, I have tried to remain true to the mantra of ‘One day at a time.’ Now I need a drink.
Meet Our Contributing Author — Myron Edwards
Myron fell into advertising as he was working as a Travel Manager at the world’s biggest Ad Agency JWT. They knew that he had worked on TV and Radio as freelancer, working for the BBC on Radio and TV. When the family moved to Cyprus, he was also writing his first book now a trilogy. Mistress of the Rock was the beginning of a new chapter in writing for him. Credit: Myron Edwards
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