Saturday November 28th – Day 24


Woke at 5.00am and tossed the salad of life around before eventually getting up at 6 to complete the second draft. I wish I could now remember all the ingredients of the salad; some of them seemed so pertinent at the time. However, as with many thoughts that fly at that time of day, few of them take purchase.

Second draft now complete and I have managed to reduce the total to 42,000 words. Now, there’s a surprise! 2,000 words over my intended limit. Well, I suppose the consolation is I’m not the usual 40,000 words over. Third draft tomorrow, so I’ll see what can be done then.

As far as my characters go, I’m happy with them. Simon, we already know from The Wind Between Two Worlds, though I’ve had to introduce him to those who haven’t read his previous incarnation. Shona is fresh out of the box and I like her; she’s a little complex, a little vulnerable and yet when stirred, quite feisty. She reminds me of the TED Talk Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie gave on the danger of a single story: if you haven’t already watched it, I can thoroughly recommend it. Here’s the link:

As I have mentioned, her TED Talk inspired me to write this novella and, even though I laboured through certain sections of her novel Americanah, I am an ardent fan of her writing. History, whether personal or otherwise, cannot be encapsulated in one single story: we humans are complex creatures and some more complex than others; our histories, our stories, are begun and developed long before we become a light in our parents’ eyes, and each day we absorb and react to volumes of information. One cannot possibly define that accumulation in one story; the DNA is too labyrinthine.

I recently received an email from Scott Alexander Young, he of the silken tones who so brilliantly narrated Constant Tides for the audiobook version; and recent reviews endorse his sublime talent. We were discussing the curious nature of atmosphere during this period of restrictions and, sadly, fatalities. One of the points he made was that in the bad old days of Budapest, when officialdom was positively Orwellian and perhaps Kafkaesque(his words, he’s a far better writer than I), one could always go find a café, bar or party to lift the gloom. He writes, ‘It was like living in a spy novel one minute and a Henry Miller book the next.’ I think he hits the nail on the head; for just now, there is something of the Communist-era in the way we plan and go about our day. First thought: is my next activity in contravention of regulations?

I sat and watched the news while I ate breakfast. In one feature, the anchors referred to a well-known and eminently sensible virologist, who used the word ‘efficacious’ in response to questions regarding one of the proposed vaccines. As a result, I’ve spent most of the day trying to banish from my head the lyrics and tune to Lily the Pink by the Scaffold. Where on earth did they get hold of Mr Freers, Robert Tony, Old Ebenezer, Johnny Hammer, Aunty Milly and Jennifer Eccles? They’ve been driving me right round the bend. Having said that, what wouldn’t we give for a dose of Medicinal Compound right now?

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