Thursday November 12th – Day 8
Woke at 4.00am: considered today’s challenge. If you’ve already read yesterday’s, you’ll understand what’s involved. Quick resumé for those who haven’t: man and woman, dinner… and the next part is the tricky part. Lay there and looked for answers waiting for dawn to creep beneath the curtains. Remembered we were nearly halfway through November and that dawn wasn’t going to be happening until sometime around 6.30, so slinked out of bed. The house was unexpectedly warm: left the heating on all night. Idiot! Tea and toast; fired up the laptop and remembered I needed to be up early to write an email to Amazon who have, in their wisdom, managed to cock up the price of one of my novels on their site. ‘Dear sir…’ Ventured out for a walk. Funny how most of the women out exercising smile at you in sympathetic association, whereas the men studiously ignore you, as though they risk contracting the virus through mere acknowledgement. Returned and checked Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, etc.
One of the curious benefits of posting this diary is that some readers like to interact, for which I am very grateful and which I heartily welcome. One respondent in particular supplied me with an alternative route to progress I had not considered – Brilliant! – and that got me thinking.
When writing The Wind Between Two Worlds, a more standard thriller than the historical/locational stories I’m used to, I kept a whiteboard handy on which I had scrawled the words ‘Remember to turn left’. The reason for doing this is that we get channelled into thought processes by the information we absorb from countless novels and films, both on television and at the movies, though I can’t recall the last time I went to the pictures. This little reminder to turn left stopped me from taking the easy route and caused me to direct the plot in a non-standard format. The Irish have a saying that also helps in plot development: ‘when you come to a fork in the road, take it’. I love this logic, for there’s little as dull or unsatisfying as ‘getting’ the story long before you reach the denouement. On the other hand, you shouldn’t turn so far left that you end up meeting yourself coming back the other way or – like Monty Python and their gloriously funny scene when Brian of Nazareth gets to the top of the minaret, falls and is collected by a cyclopean, egg-shaped space person. Sorry, but that does me up every time I watch it – descend into parody. Yet, turning left has the habit of grabbing the reader’s attention and making him or her concentrate, believing that there may just be something more intriguing going down. I remember as a junior salesman at a garage in Dorking going through a fallow patch. Whatever I tried I couldn’t seem to sell a car, even if the aliens were about to invade the Surrey Hills and I had the last car available. I sought the advice of a salesman I admired. “Try going to work by an alternative route.” So I did just that. The fallow patch ended and I was off and running again. The change to your norm alters your outlook and your actions.
Oh, and the man and the woman and dinner? You’ll have to wait and see – or read.
Ciao. Until tomorrow.