Monday November 16th – Day 12


A comfortable day, today. Didn’t get up too early, slight hangover from the neuralgia rather than the Scotch, and knew pretty much where I was going. Some days are like that: it’s not boring, though the procedural aspect of getting from start to finish can often seem that way; and I really don’t have anything of great excitement or substance to report. This part of the process is rarely revelatory; there is no eureka moment, no awakening, no epiphany; it’s just plain and simple keeping the narrative on track. There may a gentle manipulation or two through poetic licence, garnished with a side-order of whizz-pops, but definitely no whizz-bangs or mortars; we’ll save those for the crescendo. This is the period I like to think of as kismet, a period of the character’s progress towards their predestined end, a period divinely ordained by a plot already designed, a fate predetermined. Half a minute! Even I haven’t worked out whether the rabbit I intend to pull out of the hat is going to be pink with yellow spots or yellow with pink spots. Right about now, I’m too busy showing you the empty hat.

As an aspiring writer in my teenage years, I was fortunate enough to spend time in the company of one of my literary heroes, scriptwriter and radio and television presenter Dennis Norden CBE. Most of us – of a certain age – remember Dennis from My Word, in which he appeared alongside Frank Muir, his long-time writing partner. Others will remember him from the outtakes show It’ll be alright on the night. Apart from being a hilarious raconteur and skilled wordsmith, Dennis was a kind and sensitive man. On mentioning I had written the draft of a novel, he suggested I let him cast his eyes over it. Dennis then sat me down and in the gentlest possible manner pointed out the many errors of my ways. In essence, he said, his genial light twinkling behind his glasses, writing a novel is much like a magician’s trick; you must in the end pull the rabbit out of the hat, everyone knows you are going to and you mustn’t disappoint them. How you manage the deception… well, that’s the story.

Now, if you’re one of those people…

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