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



Ah want ti be – Sandie Craigie

I’m planning out a follow-up novel. When I wrote ‘1919’, it was all one story, it was just too fat so I split it in half before shoving it out. For July’s NaNoCamp, I wrote the draft of a novel set in Edinburgh in the 1990s and now I’m extending it, picking up some loose ends and, hopefully, developing them.
In some ways, I’m feeling a bit painted into a corner, I can’t just let my imagination run wild, as I could with the first part (working title: ‘Wifies’). This time, everybody’s already got their hair-colour, eyes, jobs and sexual preferences. Everything has to grow out of what came before, all those set-in-stone factoids I had so much fun dreaming up last time. So I’m approaching this one, baw-deep in limitations already.
That said, I’m genuinely fond of several of my characters. The ‘shite friend but a great fuck’ and the battered wife, for starters. Since about June, they’ve been talking to me, hanging around my house pished, bitching about each other – and they’re almost all smokers, the bastards. Much more of this and I’ll start casting the movie in my head, the way normal people do with ‘American tabloid’!
Before I started’ Wifies’, I created dossiers for my six main characters. So far, I’ve spotted four I’ll need to create for this one. Should take me about a week.


holidays in the sun – sex pistols

Ah well, that’s another NaNo ‘finished’ (if any book can ever be considered to be finished!) More correctly, that’s another first draft squeezed and grunted and screamed out, bloody and violent and shit-smeared but, by God, beautiful. It’s not perfect, but it’ll lie fallow for a few months or years, before I get down to the filthy business of gutting it, polishing it and making it fit to be shown to real live people.

This is the first time I’ve taken a week off work to write like this and I have to say, it went well. Two thousand words a day for the first week, then nine days of about four thousand a day, so when I went back to work, I had 47k under my belt and around a fortnight left to coast, easing out the last 8k of afterbirth, slowly and languidly, at two thousand per day.

While I was off, I hit five thousand once or twice, another day it took all day to force out a mere two thousand.

And I didn’t use Scrivener this time, which is the first time in maybe a year. This was all done in Evernote and Libre Office (at home) and MS Word at anywhere else I stayed. There were no religious reasons for this, just that I was still finding my feet with my new Linux box, so I didn’t have access to all the Windows products I’ve come to rely on. Which helps keep it fresh, so win-win.

This is also the first book in many moons that hasn’t been soundtracked (at least at first) by Miles Davis. I almost always start a new project with ‘The complete ‘In a silent way’ sessions, or once in a while, ‘Get up with it’. This time, I used Simply Rain, Simply Noise and (more usually) Coffitivity. Ambiances, that purport to enhance creativity (and most definitely, blot out this accursed tinnitus).

In my down moments, I began outlining July’s NaNo, which occurs in the same universe as this recently completed work. I’ve got a few plot ideas, which I’m knitting together and a list of character dossiers I’ll need to fill in, which is my next job.

Due to it being set in the same universe as the just finished one, the process of cobbling together a ‘sequel’, should no doubt pull together some of the strands of the first one when the time comes to revise that.

we kill the beast – xtc

I’m about twenty-five thousand words into this month’s NaNo. It’s (touch wood) pouring out like the piss leaks out of a kicked tramp and I’ve been lucky enough to experience that magical trance-world of just sitting back as the in-skull movie unfurls in my head and typing like a madman, trying to keep up with it.

I’ve even stopped buying The National for the duration. I figured I’d need the time I normally spend, reading the news and insulting more-than-deserving political hacks on twitter, for the serious business of typing filth. Once I’ve got this draft under my belt, I’m going back to buying it every day. And tweeting torrents of abuse and shame at any reactionary politico dumb enough to put their head over the parapet.

I did take a couple of hours out the other night to watch the (Scottish) leaders’ debate on TV at The Scary Wifie’s house. Jim Murphy giving it the best line of the night, chiding Ruth Davidson, “if you can’t be right, just be wrong as loudly as you can”. Living proof that no-one, not even Jim Murphy, can be all bad.

Nicola Sturgeon, as ever, getting the loudest applause of the night. All the polls are pointing to a hung parliament and Sturgeon, putting Murphy on the spot, demanding he said yes or no to an arrangement with the SNP. Of course, Murphy smirked, prevaricated and evaded the question. Is it any wonder the electorate are fed up to the back teeth with Westminster and its traditional soundbite politics?

Murphy can’t (supposing he even wanted to) publicly embrace a progressive alliance in case it alienates some hypothetical floating voter somewhere who voted conservative in 2010. Cameron’s stuck between a rock and a UKIP-place. The all-party rush to the middle of the road is precisely why the SNP (and Plaid and the Greens) are wiping the floor with the opposition. The policies people want to hear, in plain language and no pretence to be a bit conservative when talking to wealthy voters, a bit labour when talking to working class people. This is precisely what’s been missing for years in politics.

The lib-dems are in an enviable place compared to five years ago. Now that they’re not just unelectable but less electable than the Yorkshire Ripper, they have free reign to promise whatever they want, because they’ll never be called on it. A review of Britain’s drug laws? But didn’t you promise that in 2010? And you’ve been in government for the last five years? No matter. No-one in their right mind would vote for the squishy bit of the failed coalition. So they fielded what appeared to be John Inman. A guy you just know would be happier running at you with a tape measure than he is pushing his goldilocks crap (or, less spending than labour, less cuts than the conservatives, as they keep putting it).

Ruth Davidson is just plain terrifying. Facing electoral genocide next month, she’s mutated into some sort of radioactive psycho-vermin, backed into a corner and showing its teeth. Which will presumably resonate with all those floating voters who identify with, and respond to, blind animal rage.

It’s a month to go and the establishment have been busily smearing Sturgeon and Salmond, as if those two are some sort of independent entities, unbound by a political party made up of over a hundred thousand individuals – all with recent political experience. This hubris on the part of the Westminster parties is, frankly, comedy gold. I’m almost sorry we only have another few weeks in which to enjoy it.

she’s in parties – bauhaus

I’m almost sorry – almost – that the next month will be spent, instead of arguing politics with my fellow man, writing the first draft of my next work.

With the general election just the other side of NaNoCamp, I’ll be taking a wee hiatus from the merry cut and thrust of the Westmonster parties screaming in unbridled xenophobic terror at the thought that some uppity jocks might actually be elected. In an election. By voters, many of whom are also Scots of some sort.

Of course, since I’ll be writing about the Victorians, I imagine the outpourings of David Camerong, whatshisnameagain Clegg and the human Milliband will feed somehow into what I’m writing.

And of course, there’s Jim Murphy, a man so determined to refuse to admit Labour are finished in Scotland, he’s trying to bring back glue-sniffing at football matches. Anybody who “can’t remember” whether they’ve sniffed glue or not is a liar, take it from me. I haven’t used toluene since 1980 and I still remember it VERY vividly indeed.

I wonder if I’ll miss Murphy’s idiotic pronouncements? Probably not. Or Nicola Sturgeon being attacked with Gestapo-like efficiency about having both clothes and hair – while not having kids.

For the last twenty years or so, elections have been fought, not on policies but on the moral vacuum at the heart of your opponent’s soul. There’s been no refutation of anything Salmond or Sturgeon have to say, just the sort of refusal-to-understand, hands-up-in-horror approach the tabloids have to child killers. We’ve seen Sturgeon as Miley Cyrus, so what’s next? Alex ‘n’ Nicola as the Moors Murderers? The Wests? Venables and Thompson? Or is that too far from the racist stereotypes the media are pushing?

It’s bizarre, watching a general election being fought where none of the main parties have anything worthwhile to add, but simply spew vitriol over everybody else. Hysterical, though.

What all these unionist commentators are all missing is, the SNP have long been regarded as harmless eccentrics in Scotland. Their followers are traditionally the wackos and crazed loners that you don’t mind saying ‘hello’ to in the pub, but that you try to avoid getting into conversation proper with. Like most fetishists, they had nothing else in their lives – or to talk about.

So how did they suddenly end up with one hundred thousand members, clear policies of social justice and led by brilliant strategists? Nature as ever, abhors a vacuum and that’s what Westminster politics has evolved into. Scotland’s voted Labour ‘to keep the tories out’ and been rewarded by three Thatchers, a Major and now Cameron. During the eighties, as Kinnock swerved to the right, following the trail of breadcrumbs dropped by The People’s Princess, Margaret Thatcher, the likes of Blair and Murphy came up the food-chain, learning how politics worked. As Ken Livingstone said at the time, “Thatcher’s greatest triumph was to convince just enough of the electorate that there was no sensible alternative to her policies.” And that’s the lesson Tony Blair and Jim Murphy learned at her knee.

There is no difference nowadays between the red tories and their blue equivalent. There’s even been talk of a Labour/Conservative coalition. Now that I’d pay to see! Both parties pissing over their core supporters from a great height, sharing power – y’know the way Cameron ‘shared’ it with poor wee whatshisnameagain Clegg – and doubling the SNP’s support while they’re at it.

edgar allen poe – lou reed

The planning for next month’s NaNo was pretty much finished as of last week. I had a basic outline, scrawled on fag-packets, toilet walls and untattooed body parts, which I’ve been mind-mapping – in reverse order – one scene at a time. This lets me spot and iron out logic bubbles before they creep into the text when the time comes to write it.

I finally bought the bullet and bought a new computer after years of swithering and putting it off. It was second-user (i.e. a mongrel from many sources) so it had Linux installed. My initial plan was to cart it home, have a look at the operating system before ripping it out and installing Windows.

As it turned out, Linux nowadays is a damn sight more user friendly than it was in the days of slackware. I’ve had to install next to nothing – just a mind-mapping program, I think – and it worked perfectly, straight out of the box it didn’t in fact come in.

I’ve also been reading up on Victoriana – both fiction and non-fiction. I’ve never read Dickens before and I’m thoroughly enjoying ‘David Copperfield’. Same with Edgar Allan Poe. Since next month’s book is set in Victorian times, I’m immersing myself in that world, both the fiction and non-fiction on specific facets of Victorian behaviours and attitudes.

There are plenty of books available on Victorian life, certainly on the areas I’m researching just now and the fiction is an absolute delight. Poe is the master of description and Dickens’ humour sticks out a mile. On top of all that, I’m completely wallowing in the language and vocabulary of the period.

This is my first foray into steampunk. It’s an interesting genre, with its own rules and conventions, which I’m already planning to blaspheme against, every chance I get!

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