Fear eats the soul

I’m just throwing words at a page a the moment, the way kids throw a ball against a wall in films, telegraphing boredom and ‘I’ve got nothing better to do’.  Unlike them, I am not about to discover a secret portal into the past or have a life changing experience with my peers on the way to see a dead body.


I am stuck, throwing not particularly good words at a wall in a not particularly good order.


So I keep on going, knowing it is rubbish but keeping on all the same.  This week, my week off I said I’d make 5000 words.  This week.  5000 words?


To avoid this vertical struggle, I just read the opening of Sherlock Holmes – A Study in Scarlet.  It reads so honestly – first person – Watson talking about his experience in Kandahar.  I think my novel is too much about my own attitude to my experience looking back (bitter) rather than the experience itself, which was actually kind of joyful and reasonably positive at the time.  Only in grizzled hindsight have I become bitter.  At the time I was happy and excited – surely that should shape the novel?  It has totally affected the way I write.  None of my characters are ‘nice’, not even okay.  One of them is close to me, but only because we share all the same slovenly, trashy bad habits.  Didn’t even Bonfire of the Vanities have some balanced, optimisitc characters?  Generation X?


I’ve decided to basically write through it and do a first read though in June.  13 weeks at 5000 words a week.  June will be the first chance I have to read back and see what kind of a big poo I have done on the page and whether I can mop it up.  The finish line is everything.  Is this a stupid strategy?  Words of support, answers to questions and any kind of input are moooooossssst welcome right now.




Dejected for all the wrong reasons on Valentine’s Day x



Read it and weep


Not a fair proximation of the real experience.


So I’m writing a novel (yeah, I know.).  And I quite like it, especially as I’m up to about 12000 words and I haven’t read any of them back.  It’s an experiment of sorts, because when I edit, I become so self critical that I talk myself out of finishing.  My writing folder is crammed full of half writ pieces, some of which probably had promise, but fell prey to my insatiable inner critic (thanks Julia Cameron) and now lay forgotten by the roadside of my dreams. Or something like that.

Sooo, the novel.  Aha, the novel.


Right, it is proving tricky to write it without actually looking at it properly because somewhere along the line it has turned into a murder mystery,  This is interesting in itself as I thought my first novel would be the kind of tome that would make Jonathan Franzen explode into flames at the wonder of it and put all human history into perfect order and touch everyone from the Hong Kong businessman to the Kalahari tribeswoman with its grace,truth and beauty. In truth, I don’t think I’ve quite nailed it with this one.

What it also means is that, because I haven’t been reading it back and have no plan to write from, I have not kept tabs on my facts and have clearly scuppered the hermeneutic.  When you see portraits of crime writers in the Books sections there’s always an out of focus whiteboard in the background on which are pinned character breakdowns and locations and marker pen scribblings showing how it all  adds up.  Well, mine is a new approach.  Wonderful, innovative, never-been-published me. 


So it won’t make sense, I know this.  How could Jasper have been in the attic when he was evidently rehearsing with Sooki at the time?  But I will go back and put it straight.  In fact, listen to this link below if you’re reading this – a really good short essay about something called ‘ret-conning’ which is when writers go back and change facts in comic books or detective fiction to iron out discrepancies (Conan Doyle’s famous example was killing off Holmes and then bringing him back 6 years later):



I reckon I’ll have a fair amount of ret-conning to do, but at least I’m in good company..  The novel is set in a drama school which means I can finally put my past to good use.  I did a one year course at such an institution, which basically means I was a cash pinata, constantly whacked for fees and charges and offered the glibbest acting advice in return by a series of disinterested ‘professionals’ who hadn’t had a sniff of a job in years.  It really was that bad –  I could have got a better training if I had browsed the celebrity biography section at WHSmiths for a few minutes.  Still I made some good friends and got an agent and for a while almost enjoyed the professional acting world, before coming to my senses and escaping for good. 

12,000 words and counting.  I’m aiming for 15,000 by the end of next week.  Will keep you posted.