haters gonna hate – even the shit i be proud of, yeah?


July 2014

rearrange your synapses – atari teenage riot

I’m all set to embark on next month’s novel. My working pattern for the next few months involves me caning work for three, four days followed by three, four days off. Up until now, I’ve approached novel writing by simply writing each day until the work is complete. This time, it’ll be sustained bursts, interspersed by going back to work for a wee rest before sinking my teeth into it again. Which is great – it feels like the first time all over again.

This time, I’ve completed dossiers for my four main characters and just collected photographs for the minor characters and all my settings. (How was this possible before we had the masturbation superhighway?)

I’m experiencing the usual pre-novel trepidation: does this plot hang together? Are these characters believable/involving/deep enough? And, of course, that perennial favourite, how the fuck can I find sufficient shirt-elastic to somehow squeeze out more than fifty thousand words??? In a month??? Sweet Christ, I’m not up to this enormous task – oh Lord, why hast thou forsaken me, thy misshapen servant???

None of these fears will have any impact on my output over the next month. It’s pre-match nerves, nothing more. Once I get started, I know that new ideas will spurt out like puke from a kicked tramp. I feel confident that my mind will disgorge plenty of stuff I haven’t even considered yet. Once I start hammering my notes into shape, the gaps I find will suggest solutions and workarounds and the novel will take shape under its own steam.

The best moments whilst writing (for me, anyway) are when the plot just sort of unfolds and all I do is immerse myself in the in-skull movie, transcribing it as fast as I can as it effectively writes itself. It’s a trance-like state that’s enjoyable enough while I’m going through it. And after it’s over, I can pat myself on the back for how brilliant I am. Win-win.

I’m slightly overhung as I write this, (29 vii 14) leading me to believe that I’ll shit this draft out a lot more easily if I increase my alcohol-free days to seven or eight per week. Which may or may not happen, it’s hard to tell from here.

And I’ve started on the B-vitamins (yesterday). I’ve done this the last couple of times and it does seem to improve things, forcing my brain (such as it is) into ‘clever’ mode.


go your own way – fleetwood mac

This week, I’ve mostly been writing towards the novel scheduled for October this year – and planning next month’s first draft frenzy. I’ve been using Scrivener for this. Which, when one actually sits down and devotes a couple of days to the tutorials provided, really is a spectacular bit of software. As others have said, it’s as far above a common or garden word processor as MS Word is above writing on shop windows with shite on a stick.
Don’t believe me? Try the demo, do the tutorials and if that doesn’t increase your workflow, you’re already dead.
There are only four major characters in next month’s novel, with an assortment of walk-ons and part-timers. I can get through these pretty quick, I reckon.
Dreich NOiR’s a whole different kettle of pish. This was all written in various different software, across a variety of machines (desktop PC/llaptops/netbooks/handheld/smartphones) so being able to pull it all together in scrivener’s an absolute joy.
I’ve also been spending time with an ex from way-back-when. The relationship went on for about a year, back in the early eighties and revolved around her hedonism and my own nihilism – a folie au deux, as the French would say. Fun at first, it all went a bit ‘Requiem for a dream’ towards the end and we parted on very bad terms indeed. Fast forward thirty or so years and she’s grown up a lot and I’m a bit less caught up in my own inner arsehole, so it’s been very rewarding, getting to know her as a pretty nice adult.
Getting drunk with her has been fun and there’s a great ‘zero bullshit’ vibe to it all. Which is pretty good going from someone who said, at our first meeting in thirty years, “a year with you was enough to convince me I have absolutely no interest in either sado-masochistic sex or psychedelic drugs.”

everyone’s gone to the moon – jonathan king

The V. I. Paedo case is growing, a rotting corpse in far too much make-up, slammed into a duck pond, ripples spreading out in all directions. Names bandied around in whispers on explode out of the dailies a year later. Saville at Chequers with the Thatchers’ other friends, Thatcher knew all along, half her cabinet were chicken-hawks, Cliff Richard and Jill Dando, the royal family’s connections to Saville…

It all goes round and round. The Grand Hotel – Brighton ’84. The IRA almost-but-not-quite “dear Mrs Thatcher, we only have to be lucky once. you have to be lucky always.” Twenty four hours earlier and there would have been a gaggle of rent boys, teenage and smashed and collateral damage.

Part of me, wondering just how the Murdoch papers could have spun that to the Grating Brutish Public. The rest of me’s wondering, can this shower of paedophiles, criminals and apologists be trusted to investigate their own? And, since we’ve already had a war, the Olympics and a royal wedding-and-baby and a party to celebrate her majesty’s sixty years on benefits, what have they left to distract us with now?

Whatever it is, it’ll need to be big and colorful. It can’t be a cure for cancer as they’ve already promised that Scottish independence has arsed that. And the new Bond film isn’t due til November.

The world thug soccer Cup failed to distract anyone for any length of time – most of the games were played by foreigners, some of whom actually won it. And destroyed, in the process, one of England’s traditional jingoistic football chants.

One day, a real rain will come…


obsession – punishment of luxury

One thing about planning any book is the research I’m hurled into. For the last couple of months or so, I’ve been delving into the lives of famous rapists, sadists, mass-slayers and dictators. I’m coming to understand a lot more about a subject I’ve known about for years, yet never gone this deeply into before.

I’ve already worked out the skeleton of my plot, this is just filling in the blanks, building the framework that overlays said skeleton. I’m even re-reading Elliott Leyton’s ‘Hunting humans’ which I’m pretty sure I haven’t read since the late eighties.

One book that’s really grabbed me is Helen Morrison’s ‘My life among the serial killers’, a brilliantly researched work, written after a lifetime of interviewing people who hurt other people – and who seem, in most cases, to be unable to prevent themselves from doing so. In many cases, the emotional understanding of a serial killer appears to be stunted at around what we’d expect from a two-year-old.

I’m finding all this fascinating, looking at the society that the killer finds him-or-herself in. How they relate to that society or fail to. How that sense of alienation can trigger the most horrific of crime sprees. From Edmund Kemper (“I just wondered what it would be like to shoot grandma”) to the Yorkshire Ripper. Their expectations before and during their reign of terror. Their relationship with the police – and the publicity that grows up around their work.

To the serial killer, other people are no more than objects – either something to use in the quest for fulfilment or as obstacles between the serial killer and that fulfilment. There’s no empathy, no sense that they’re violating their victims.

However, once the bodies start piling up, many of them seem shocked by the feelings that explode inside them. Guilt or fear of punishment hit them suddenly, as if it took committing the acts to realise the trouble they were in. Prior to embarking on the murders, most seem to have had no real conception that this might cause problems for themselves.

I don’t think there’s any way to recognise a serial killer. There are no physical or psychological signs that we can point to before they start making the world a worse place than it is already. In tests, most serial killers aren’t intellectually incompetent. If anything, most serial killers are of above average intelligence, although falling somewhere short of geniuses. It’s as if, all that intellect had to get out somehow.

I’m still planning to (one day) write a novel about the care industry and another about psychedelic drugs. From this ‘pre-production’ point in my studies for this book, I can see that researching either is going to change me; my outlook and how I understand my interactions with the world.

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