Wednesday 11th November – Day 7


A sobering thought that this is already day seven and I have a little in excess of 12,000 words. Sobering, because I have also realised that I will need to have the first draft completed by the 27th, if I am to allow myself time to rewrite and edit by the end of lockdown. Having the facility of rewriting is comforting: one can tweak the narrative with the odd twist and turn, provide characters with greater dimension, if required, and change the ending. It’s a little like seasoning – occasionally a tad more salt, sugar, spice or pepper. In a culinary context, if you haven’t added the seasoning at the appropriate moment, right at the end is generally too obvious. In a writing context, you have the luxury of being able to apply the extra during the rewriting, but only as long as it doesn’t affect the overall construction. Rewriting, though, is exactly what it says on the tin and you can’t start rewriting until you’ve completed the first draft; to do otherwise risks creating a confusing narrative. So maybe I’m wrong: maybe rewriting is similar to seasoning a meal right at the end. Nigella often likes a soupcon of salt before she presents and her meals turn out okay – well, she seems to enjoy them.

Woke at 5.00am, considered yesterday’s effort, wrote a few notes on the ceiling and gave some thought to today’s task. Up at 7.00am: toast, tea, the news, a walk, though some might term my stride a quick march, 4-5 miles in the hour if my memory serves me correctly. Sat down at 9.00am with a blank page – not ideal. I knew where I was going but had to work out how to get there and there are no maps or templates for a man, a woman and – yes, you’ve guessed it – sex or not sex. I say not sex, because I haven’t worked out which is best for the plot progression and the conclusion. There are a number of options available. The couple consummate their attraction for each other, simple. They don’t, simple, too. Er, it’s not that simple as both ends carry protracted subsections. Eugh! That didn’t come out quite the way I wanted it to, but you probably get my drift. If they do: is she happy, fulfilled, grateful, regretful, annoyed with herself, annoyed with him. Did everything work out swimmingly and does she want to see him again, does she not, does she think he wants to see her again and why, etc? The same applies to him. If they don’t consummate, then why and why not? This may sound as though I’m over-complicating the matter, but the result of their union, or disunion, will have a considerable bearing on the reader’s sympathy towards the characters and how the reader approaches the rest of the novel. Sex is also extremely challenging to write: how much should you – I was going to say ‘put in’ but again, eugh? How much should you leave out? Should it be Mills and Boon or Basic Instinct? Is it carnal or sex-light? And what terminology should you employ? When is a penis not a penis? No, I know it’s not Shakespeare and no, I’m not joking. It’s challenging unless you want to trade in pictorial metaphors, as Monty Python so famously and precisely managed.

When I ask people if they’ve read Fifty Shades, most roll their eyes or suck their teeth and tut-tut. I’ve read it – but only for research purposes, you understand – and I’m in awe of Erica Leonard, or EL James I should say. The characters may seem a shade cardboard, yet James reveals her characters through their attitude to the sex they engage in. For everybody, Fifty Shades isn’t; but I think James’ writing is both personally brave and sensually real. There I said it. That’s me unmasked.

So, tomorrow’s task is to work out whether they do or they don’t. Watch this space. No, look away!


Ciao. Until tomorrow.


  • Diary Day

Further Reading

What You Don't Know About Me

Constant Tides

The Wind between Two Worlds

The Truth in Fiction

Ontreto: A Novel of Lipari

Boarding House Reach

Mazzeri: Love and Death in Light and Shadow