Monday, July 6, 2009


Writing is funny. By 'funny' I mean 'odd and distasteful', not actually humourous, obviously.

I'm not talking about the end result, but the act itself. The end result could well be funny, or thrilling, or enlightening, or beautiful, or scary, or rubbish, or, well, any number of things. That's for readers to decide.

The 'act' of writing, though, is weird.

I've had what I believe is known as 'writer's block' for an age, now. I finished Scratch two years ago. I kept editing it for another year or so. I think it's finished, now. It isn't, of course, but I'm sick of it so chose to move on.

What did I move on to? Eh ...

I moved on to Facebook. And Twitter. And stuff.

Writing wise, I didn't move anywhere. I was resolutely stumped.

I remember, long before I was pretending to be a writer, the phrase write what you know.

I assumed that was a credo, and followed it.

In WYLMT I wrote what I knew, or some of what I knew at least. I knew about being an unsuccessful musician, I knew about working with people with learning disabilities, I knew about, sadly, depression. I knew about dogs, I knew about drama students, I knew about disappointed but ever hopeful parents. I knew how it felt to get a terrible haircut. All the serious stuff, I knew.
That was a pretty easy, if painful, book to write.

Then came Scratch. What was left to write, that I knew about? Hmm...
Dead end jobs? Yep. Being a barman? Yep. Not knowing the meaning of the word 'adult'? Yep. Managing to screw up relationships, even the second time round? Yep.
That was a pretty easy, if painful, book to write.

So, what's next? What else do I know? What else do I have to comment upon? Answer - nothing. I'm done. The shallow quarry of me has been fully excavated. Two novels did it, they were enough. There's bugger all left in there, it's a vacant lot.

But, I apparently still want to write. Is that just because it's become a habit? A hobby?

I've done my demons - depression is dead to me now, I wrote it out, I killed it (in chapter one). WYLMT achieved its purpose in that respect. The fact that it ended up getting published was, and continues to be, a bonus.
Scratch let me write my way out of relationship hell. Job done.
Both books were about normal people dealing with, sometimes, not ordinary situations.
So, what do I write next?

Jesus, I've been searching for something, and getting it wrong. Badly wrong. I've made the mistake of trying to create extraordinary situations for characters to react to. That's no bad thing, but the mistake I've made is to come up with the circumstance first, not the characters.
I have, so far, had an earthquake, a bomb blast, and a guy who can read other people's minds, but only when they're thinking about him.

These are not things I'm likely to be good at writing about. Why did I come up with them? Because they weren't things I knew about. That was a good reason, a couple of hours ago. It isn't, now.

It occurred to me tonight that there's no point in denying what you're good(ish) at. I can do real people in real relationships who get life wrong a lot.
I can't do bombs, or sci-fi, or crime.
The only thing less interesting to me than the striations on a spent bullet is the mind of a person who finds the striations on a spent bullet interesting.

I'm going back to writing about people. Normal, real people, who swear, make mistakes and don't solve problems with pithy one liners. Or guns. Or talent. Or skill. Or ever.

1 comment:

  1. Danny, if writing what you know gave you the inspiration to write WYLMT and Scratch (which made me laugh out loud so many times I almost choked) then I hope to God you find some more experiences from your life to inspire your fiction. Great writing from a great writer.