Sunday November 22nd – Day 18
Excluding the current chapter, I believe we have three more to go and we are up at 35,000 words; all of which means we are going to be over the prescribed 40,000. That’s not so bad and in a small way it is comforting, as losing ten per cent should not prove a problem. Editing, in a roundabout way, is not far removed from slashing a path through the jungle; the trick is not to slash so haphazardly that you take the trees down with the unwanted brush. Having them land on your head hurts and trying to put them back up can require an awful lot of unwanted and unnecessary effort. Be the surgeon, not the demolition man.
This morning, I was up late. In truth I very nearly got up at two-thirty I was so wired. The same at three, four and seven, when I finally decided I might as well get on with it. I slept in between of course, and by the end of the morning was relieved I had managed to resist the temptation. The day began inauspiciously: my laptop suffered some form of brain fart and required restarting and a little patient investigation and rectification before it would behave itself; the jolly cyclists, on the Thames Valley Cycleway that passes our door, designed to ensure every person within a mile of their route hear the specifics of their conversation, even though you could have heard a church mouse sneeze in Shepperton; and as soon as the clock struck nine a selection of power tools – the like of which wives buy husbands for Christmas only then for them to be put away until the coming November when they are brought out in order to remind their wives they already have them… Now, where was I? Oh, yes – a selection of power tools shattered the silence and whined away for the rest of the morning. I walked fast, a half-hour, returned and sat down to keep calm and carry on.
This year. This year lists among the strangest many of us have known and would appear to have been written by Stephen King and directed by David Lynch. King, I doubt needs any introduction, he is one of the most prolific and well-known writers of his generation. Lynch, on the other hand, is not perhaps universally known outside of film circles and was the director of mind-bending and surreal movies such as Blue Velvet and Mulholland Drive, and the even stranger television series Twin Peaks. In his autobiography, King relates how he was phoned one day by his agent and told there was good news and bad news. The good news was that his breakthrough novel, Carrie, had been picked up by a publisher and he was going to receive a substantial down-payment. The bad news was that King would be writing similar – well, to be kind, let’s say – novels for the rest of his life. The moral of this story is that writing what you want to write is a luxury few writers have been fortunate enough to enjoy. There are many gently amusing aphorisms about writing and writers, but perhaps my favourite is the one about the writer who dies and goes to hell. “Okay,” the devil says, “you haven’t been that bad a boy, so I’m going to give you the choice of two rooms.” He shows him the first in which rows of writers are chained to desks where they are destined to tap away at their keyboards for eternity; the dull news is that their feet are weighed down in some foul liquid, the smell of which they are powerless to escape. “No thanks,” the writer says, “may I see room number two?” The man in red leads him next door. “Excuse me, but both rooms seem the same. What’s the difference?” “Ah,” the devil replies, “the difference is that the writers in room number one are all published.”
Ciao. Until tomorrow.