Gregg on why he writes:
“I’ve always wanted to do two things in life, to write, and to have adventures. When I was a kid I imagined grand affairs. Kayaking across Canada, cycling to Australia. Whole summers in the Arctic. Did it happen? Well, partly.
I’ve been lucky, I spent some years abroad teaching English. I worked in sailing schools in Greece and Spain. I really lucked out with a job testing windsurfing boards for the magazine I grew up reading. I made a questionable decision (ok, a bad decision) to buy a windsurfing centre in Egypt. I’ve also done my fair share of less exciting jobs. Packing and stacking potatoes on a farm, which got me fitter than I’ve ever been in my life. I did a few years in local government which taught me that people really do have meetings that result only in the need for more meetings, and they really do take all afternoon. I spent a pleasant few months in a giant book warehouse, where I would deliberately get lost among the miles of shelves unpacking travel guides and daydreaming. I’ve done a bit of writing too, at least I learned how to write. Boards Magazine isn’t well known (it doesn’t even exist today) but it did have a reputation for being well written and I shoe-horned articles in my own gonzo journalism style on some topics with the most tenuous of links to windsurfing. But the real adventures never came. Nor did the real writing.
Then last year, my brother announced he was going to become the first person to windsurf alone around Great Britain. I don’t know why. Apparently it was something he’d always wanted to do (news to me.). It was a proper adventure. It was dangerous, it was exciting. Even just talking about it he got on TV, in the papers etc… Some people thought he was reckless, some thought he was inspirational. Lots of people thought he’d fail.
But he didn’t. He made it around. He even sailed solo from Wales to Ireland, the first to make the crossing without the aid of a safety boat. I was lucky enough to be involved in a superficial planning level, and take part in a few training sails, and the last leg of the trip. But he did ninety nine percent of it on his own. One step at a time, just getting on with it. That was quite inspiring.
In a way it inspired me to pull my finger out. I’d been writing novels – or trying to write novels – then for a few years. But it was touch and go as to whether I was going to be one of those ‘writers’ with a half-finished novel lost on a hard drive somewhere, rather than someone who might actually manage to finish the job.
I’ve now got two lovely, highly demanding children, so real adventures are hard right now. I still try to get away when I can for nights out in the wilds rough camping, surf trips sleeping in the van, windsurfing when the big storms come. I love adventures with the kids too.
I hope in time to get around to a few real adventures. I want to sail across an ocean. I want to bike across a continent. I definitely want to spend more time surfing empty waves.
But for me, for now at least, the real adventures take place in my mind. In my real life I’m too chained-down with the mortgage to travel the world at the drop of a hat. But when I’m writing I’m totally free. When I write, that’s me having an adventure.”