Thursday, 29 October 2009

The Meat Fisted Typing Robot

(picture courtesty of

In my head I'm Hank effing Moody. In my head, there's still a need for alpha-writers meat-fisting their coarse words on a typewriter held together with self-belief and amateur misogyny, surrounded by the effluvia of insomnia-ridden haunted writers: a soft-pack of 20 cigarettes, a half-snarfed bottle of bourbon (the 20 year old good stuff) and some Warren Zevon blaring out of the stereo. Oh, and I'm dressed in black. Maybe I'm wearing shades. Maybe the detritus of last night's party is still asleep at my feet. Maybe I'm deluded.

In reality, I'm sat at the kitchen table, surrounded by clippings of interesting articles I'll probably not come back to, my vanity shelf (this is a line of CDs, newspapers, magazines, books and a record that I've been involved with). I've got a cafetiere next to me, cos you know, I got to be up in the morning to go to my job as a regular Office Joe. I'm wearing slippers and tracksuit bottoms. And maybe Radio 4's on, but more than likely, it's silent because too much distraction can throw me off my game, I've got 1000 words to write and it's nearly midnight and if I go to bed in the next ten minutes, I can get 7 hours and 30 minutes of sleep- that is, if I fall asleep instantly. The more likely situation is tossing and turning and disturbing my wife while I try to figure out why my character Nishant isn't working in my book, what to do with Larry who I introduced early on and never came back to even though he's got great lines, and when I'm going to find the time between writing and editing and working and relating to my wife and cooking and paying the electricity bill and watching my two new Lovefilm DVDs to find a blooming agent.

It's tough out here for a writer. It really is, and I've been lucky to have performed across the world and had my stuff published in sh*t-hot magazines but the above scene is pretty much my everyday life. I'm consumed.

But it's not all bad- no way, no how because this book I'm writing at the moment is something I would want to read in a heartbeat. And that is the ultimate winner, the goal the prize. Before the compromise of selling books, that initial rush and compulsion to sit down and put pen to paper is more often than not because, regardless of feeling you got a story to tell, it's more... you want to read what you have to say. You're the first customer for anything you do. If you're writing something and you know you wouldn't buy it if you needed to pick up a new book to read from your local independent bookshop, then you've lost, people. You've lost that compulsion, that hunger and necessity and drive and power and drive to write the best you can write. I write because I want to read what I got to say. Sounds selfish when you put it like that, but it's the truth. You're the first customer of anything you write; you got to sell it to yourself first.

And what I'm writing now? I love it. I think it's ace and I am loving it when I read it back. Sure it needs tightening and there are some saggy bits but the idea, the essence of it, is exactly what I want to read. In a second. I've won. And for that reason alone, tonight I'll go home, put on my writing slippers, brew two cups worth of decent hazelnut coffee in my cafetiere, fire up the laptop and pound the keyboards with my meat fists... because some things do never change.

1 comment:

  1. You knights are busy this week aren't you? Don't forget to put up a copyright notice for that pic or link it through so they don't come asking me for cash as I only have a few pasta twirls and some porridge oats with which to settle such a legal battle and I fear grain-based compensation may not be the Hollywood way!

    Interesting post. I'm having a similar experience actually. NaNoWriMo is only a couple of days away (I'll be writing book 3 in a series) so I'm reading books 1 and 2 again. I've had enough time away from them to love the reading process. Can't wait to write the next one!



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