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



nothing – fluffy

Just couldn’t get going this morning. I woke up around seven and reached for the draft of ‘Light entertainment’ that I started going through last night. nothing. It just wouldn’t come.

So, I changed tack. Had a look on twitter, read through a bit more of the scrivener manual.

It’s only four days since I finished that draft of ‘dystopian’, so it’s only natural I should be having a wee dip just now.

I spent a month inside the skull of my mmc, so it will take at least a week to shake the bastard loose and revert to my own personality.

I have half an idea for another novel, but nothing that really grabs me by the scruff of the face and forces me to write. My UberMuse, exhausted by the process of forcing me to write ‘Dystopian’ all this month, is taking a well-deserved breather.

The plan is, I work on revising ‘The last film’ and ‘Light entertainment’ for the rest of the year while pulling ‘Hassle-home’ together in October before my Mistress UberMuse takes over and forces me to write it in November.

That’s the plan, anyway.


108 – head of david

National Novel Writing Month ( takes place every November and I really can’t recommend it highly enough.

NaNoWriMo (as well as camp NaNoWriMo, now held in June and August) give one the opportunity – and encouragement – to attack a novel, to squeeze out a first draft in a month.

After a life spent waiting for something like this, I’ve hurled myself into it and, using the programme (and, in March this year, pretending to) I have written five first drafts in the last thirteen months.

And yes, it is down to perspiration, not (so much) inspiration. Doing this once will teach you how easy writing a novel actually is, doing it several times in a year rams home how much better you’re getting over that year.

An artist friend once told me that if you draw something every day, it doesn’t matter if it’s a skinhead or a kettle, after six months, you’ll be amazed at the difference between your early attempts and today’s. Plus, after six months, even the casual observer should be able to tell which are the skinheads and which are the kettles.

I read a really good quote from Ernest Hemmingway earlier – “there is nothing to writing – all you do is sit down at a typewriter and bleed.”

Oh, and those five first drafts? ‘At home, at work, at play’ (July 2011), ‘The last film’ (November 2011), ‘Light entertainment’ (March 2012), ‘No feeelings’ (June 2012) and ‘Dystopian’ (August 2012).

can’t stand my baby – the rezillos

I’ve just written an e-maul to a friend living abroad, detailing the events of this year. Fucking hell, bring it on, Mayans! It’s only now, adding it all up, I can see how antithetical things have actually been.

And it’s a testament to my indestructibility that I haven’t gone under during this. If anything, I’ve emerged stronger than before. I’m deeply proud of all four novels that i’ve produced during this time of pressure: the end of ‘the last film’, the whole of ‘light entertainment’ and ‘no feeelings’ and ‘dystopian’, the second half of that written while getting it all back and having to clamber over it all.

As Raquel Welch once said, “how much you learn depends on how much you can stand” and I couldn’t have put it better myself.

Living for as long as I did (eight-and-a-half months) with nothing to lose, I’ve had the time to examine a few of my life-principles. and found that they still hold water. That I can still live by them.

This is where strength comes from. From the knowledge that whatever life throws up in my lap, my value-core is as strong as when things are groovy.

The I ching has been a real pillar in my life since 1986, when someone bought me the Wilhelm translation for my birthday.

It’s always been there, throughout those difficult days and the guidance is just as useful when my entire life doesn’t hurt.

the last film – kissing the pink

I got up this morning and hammered out three-and-a-half thousand words, taking my total up to just over thirty thousand.

This ‘dystopian’ novel is really taking shape! I have less than four more sections to go – say twenty to twenty-five thousand words and around twelve more days to complete it in. easy-peasy!

In November 2011, I did National Novel Writing Month for the first time. I’d done camp NaNoWriMo in July of that year, but this was the first novel I sat down and planned before writing.

It was a rollercoaster and despite being evicted from my home four thousand words from the end, finished it in my mate Adrienne’s bath before the month was up.

I’d had several of these characters ‘n’ questions in mind for a while; what does happen to a professional lookalike when the person they make a living from leeching off, dies suddenly. For instance, where are all the Jade Goody lookalikes now?

I’d written a treatment of this back in 1998, in a two-week hiatus between the end of one contract and the start of another.

There’s a group of violent lesbian separatists who came out, in the original draft, as a comedy element and I always thought I could do more with them, so now I have.

Also, the process of actually getting it down has led to a pile of ideas for two more novels about what happens once the snuff movie they’re making is completed.

shockwork – test department

Starting a new full-time job on the same day as I embark on a new novel? Is anybody else ludicrous enough to do this? Nah, I thought not.

I was offered the job back in May and told it would be ‘two to four weeks’ before all the necessary paperwork was completed and I could start.

I readied June’s novel, so that I could race through it, rather than struggle to keep up with it while starting a new job.

Subsequently, the draft, No feelings’, was finished in eighteen days.

I waited. I revised November’s draft of ‘The last film’. and I waited.

I planned this month’s novel ‘Dystopian’ and waited.

The job eventually kicked off on August second. I had my voluntary job on the first – but only after I wrote the first seventeen hundred words of this month’s novel!

I can’t believe how little sleep I’m getting by on! I’m aiming for six hours a night, usually getting about five, occasionally putting up with four. As long as I’m careful and catch up on the missed sleep when I can, I should continue to be okay.

I’m writing this in the bath, on the first day of my first two-day break this month. It’s been great -lazing around in bed until seven, eight in the morning, eating toast and so on! Rock ‘n’ roll as hell, me!

blackout – david bowie

I was just about to head for my nest last night. I’d even said a jocular cheerio to all my imaginary pals on twitter when Colonel T Parker contacted me to say that the copy of ‘1919’ I’d sent her was unreadable. I’d trashed the layout.

Oh, how we laughed. Or, at least shouted at each other, which is nearly the same, isn’t it?

So I ripped out all the formatting and had to put it all back in by hand. All of it. By hand. I stopped at two this morning. Thereupon, I cheered myself up by smashing my fists and face into the unforgiving floorboards and shrieking, “TAKE ME NOW, LORD!” I find this often helps.

Back up at 07:30. I finished revising the final forty pages of ‘the last film’ and went back to ‘1919’. three hours later I was halfway through it. Twenty thousand words, roughly. Checking it line by line. and I found a cracking mistake that’d sneaked through every revision I’d done, which was lovely. In a ‘Christ, I’m a dullard’ kind of way.

This evening, I went back to it and did another ten thousand words.

And this was meant to be a day of rest and tranquillity.

So, if we’ve threatened you with a copy and you’re worried that you’re having blackouts, you’re not. Well, probably not, anyway.

And if you are, it’s not our damn fault.

action – the sweet

Up at seven, revised another dozen pages of “the last film”. now that it’s building to its shuddering climax, i’m starting to feel almost maternal towards the fucker.

I’m smoothing the dialogue – both internal and external – and bringing all the strands together for the ending.

Revising’s a whole different ball-game to the flat-out blitzkrieg of shitting out a first draft.

In writing (as opposed to editing) i’ve just arrived in a crazy crowded boozer full of strangers and i’m getting to know them; what they wear, how they behave. their accents, preferences and prejudices.

Some of them even open up about their secrets, or their kinks.

Revising feels more like i’m directing the rehearsals for the movie of the pub: “and, CUT! No, love. Alison wouldn’t say that. she’s spiky, straight-from-the-shoulder. doesn’t call a spade a manual-earth-moving-implement.

Awright? Can we run through that again from where Donovan enters?

Positions, everyone… and ACTION!”

In the last twelve months, i’ve written the first drafts of four novels. this is the first time i’ve sat down and revised one from start to finish.

When i originally wrote “1919” in 2007/8, it was in the form of a blog. I wrote every spare second i had. (and one day, there’ll be little dignified plaques, on scattered toilet doors around Merseyside.)

JK Rowling might have written the first Harry Potter in the non-smoking section of the nellie house in Edinburgh, but “1919” was written in scouse shitters and sleepover rooms.

the passenger – iggy pop

I’m writing this on the bus back from a meeting at the home of Colonel T Parker, my sabre-toothed necessary evil. It’s dark and i’m not really wearing sunglasses.

In amongst all our plotting an’ a-schemin’, we printed out the manuscript of “the light entertainment”, which i’ll start revising in due course. Probably December – well, nothing happens around that time of year, does it?

Crappy night’s sleep last night. I woke about 03:30, couldn’t get back to sleep, so i revised a couple of dozen pages of “the last film”- then fell back asleep til about 09:00.

I headed through to Edinburgh for lunchtime. We worked out a list of the people who’re getting review copies of “1919” and when we’ll get them out to them.

Weirdly, looking back over at Fife, the skies looked like the start of The Simpsons, whereas over Edinbastard, the clouds were grey and compressed-looking and threatening.

We also watched the first episode of “Blackout”, the drama with Christopher Ecclestone as an alcoholic Liverpool apparatchik. An interesting take on starting the story with the”ordinary world” – Ecclestone great (and pitiable) as his drinking, out of control, was ripping his life – and his family – apart.

There wasn’t time to watch the second part as i had a date with this bus, but next time.

beginning of the end – eddie and the hot rods

I woke up at 07:20, got myself a meaningful cup of tea and started revising “the last film”.

The further I get into it – and I only have about a hundred pages to go – the more aware I’m becoming of how much more polishing it needs.

From what I’ve read, there’s no point in doing more than one revision.

I’ll make an exception this time as it’s my first time – and part of the learning curve.

I revised two dozen pages, composed a few paragraphs I could see were required and laid it down.

I’ve also completed the (very) first draft of ‘dystopian’. So I can leave that alone now until “the last film” is finished.

I’m feeling reasonably positive about it. there are only two characters, the rest are walk-ons and the plot’s pretty much there.

Writing the dialogue should be easy-peasy, which only leaves the descriptive passages. they’re always the hardest for me.

I’ve also written another episode of “dreich NoiR”. I plan to get all of August’s ready ahead of time so I can throw myself into ‘dystopian’.

I was saddened to learn yesterday, after the death of Ernest Borgnine the other day, of the deaths of first Lol Coxhill and a few minutes later, Tim Cross.

I’m totally shocked by Cross’ passing. he was the keyboard player on The Adverts’ “cast of thousands” lp and worked on a number of TV Smith’s solo lps.

It’s all very well Smith being one of the greatest songwriters of his generation, but Cross will leave a massive hole in how Smith brought those songs to life.

Contrast and compare his last lp with the live versions of the same songs and you’ll see what I mean.

I’m getting fed up of outliving my own record collection.

Fuck you, lung cancer. fuck you good and hard.

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