After a successful career in business, Craig Briggs began writing in 2004, penning a weekly column for an online magazine. Since then he’s had articles published by the Trinity Mirror Group, CNN, My Destination, and Insiders Abroad. In 2013 he published his first travel memoir, Journey To A Dream. As our Author of the Day, he tells us all about it.
Please give us a short introduction to what Journey To A Dream is about?
Journey To A Dream tells the true story of a life-changing move my wife and I made in 2002. We sold up, packed the car, and drove to Galicia in northern Spain. Converting our dream into a reality proved far more difficult than we’d imagined. The culture shock between life in a busy university town in Yorkshire, England and the rural serenity of a land that time forgot, brought us to the verge of submission. Throughout it all we remained steadfast to the cause and eventually achieved our goal.
What drove you to make the bold step to relocate to Spain?
Fear. Through application and determination, I have refused to let my physical disabilities dictate my ambition. In the main, I’ve achieved that goal. Psychological barriers are more difficult to overcome. Whether real or perceived, I fear my mobility will decline quicker than my contemporaries. This urgency drove us to Spain.
Part of your dream was to have a more relaxed lifestyle. Is life in Spain really much more relaxed than in England?
Adjusting to life in Spain took longer than I expected and my new lifestyle wouldn’t suit everyone but I couldn’t be happier. I’ve swapped a seven till eleven, stressful struggle for a dawn till dusk, go with the flow. My health has improved and the craftsmanship of my Spanish orthopaedic footwear manufacturer has transformed my life. The thought of returning to England, terrifies me to the core.
In which way is your memoir different from that of other expats?
Perhaps the most significant difference is addressed in the question. I’m not an expat, I am a proud immigrant. If you asked 100 expats living in Spain where Galicia was, I would hazard a guess that less than ten would know. Out of those, perhaps one would correctly identify it on a map. In an interview with a national newspaper I was once asked, "Why did you move to Galicia when most expats live on the Mediterranean coast?". My answer was simple, “Because most expats live on the Mediterranean coast”. The irony of my response was lost on the reporter.
Besides writing, what other secret skills do you have?
Viniculture. Some say that life’s too short to drink bad wine, perhaps they’re right. I would argue that life’s long enough to make good wine. We inherited some grapevines when we bought our home. Since then I have added a small vineyard. Without boasting, my winemaking skills have progressed to a level where I can produce a palatable white and a rather tasty red.
You went through a lot in pursuing your dream - have you ever considered giving up and moving back to Britain?
As Britain prepares to raise its drawbridge following the Brexit decision and abandon its European partners, I’m more certain than ever we’ve made the right choice. While Britain turns its back on foreign citizens we are hopeful our foster nation will adopt us permanently.
How did you manage to recall everything that happened to you so vividly? Did you keep a diary at the time?
Factuality is very important to me. Journey To A Dream is taken from regular newsletters I emailed to family and friends, keeping them updated on our progress. Both Melanie and I keep a daily journal and our love of photography helps fill in the visual blanks.
Do you consider yourself a disciplined writer? Do you have a schedule that you stick to, or is it more in the moment?
Writing is a solitary discipline. There’s a world of difference between a prolific writer and a regular writer. Unfortunately, I fall into the latter category. I write daily but would hardly describe myself as disciplined. After spelling, concentration and distractions are my Achilles heels. If only I could correct the latter two as easily as the first, I’d get a lot more done.
What did you have the most fun with when writing this book?
For me, the fun part of writing a book is editing. Shannon Hale once said “I’m writing a first draft and reminding myself that I’m simply shovelling sand into a box so that later I can build castles”. I love building sandcastles.
What is your favorite motivational phrase?
Admittedly, it’s a goal rather than an ideology.
Why choose now to write a memoir?
For reasons long forgotten, Melanie and I chose not to have a family. My parents were both only children and my sister sacrificed her family name to marriage. When my father died in 2007, I became the last of the Briggs’. The legacy of mere mortals’ rests in their offspring, at least for a generation or two. Then, like fading photos, their memory is lost forever. My writing may not last much longer but the idea it might do is quite appealing, if a little self-indulgent. Besides which, my lifestyle affords me the time.
What do you hope readers would take away from this?
Like most things in life, realising a dream takes hard work and determination but once you have, there are plenty more dreams to discover.
What are you working on right now?
I am currently working on book five in The Journey series. I usually find the title during the editing process, hidden within the text. The other books in the series are; Beyond Imagination, Endless Possibilities, and Opportunities Ahead.
Where can our readers discover more of your work or interact with you?
All my books are available exclusively on Amazon as ebooks or paperbacks.
My website and blog can be found at http://www.journeytoadream.co.uk
Once there, why not keep abreast of future offers by signing up to my mailing list?
I update my facebook page daily and enjoy interacting with readers https://www.facebook.com/craigbriggs.spain/
You can also find me on Goodreads https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/818161.Craig_Briggs