My friend Mazin Saleem [@maybemazin / http://maybethatsthepoint.tumblr.com/], in an act of dire charity, has kindly invited me to partake in this writing blog tour! Maz’s post can be found here, from where you may spur forth to other blogs maintained by talented writers and friends (Kate Ellis among them). I will not be doing this, as I wasn’t kidding about the dire charity bit, I know nobody. Regrettably, I am an evolutionary dead-end in this great writing chain. The world will continue to turn, and will only know of my passing by the bones I leave behind.
What am I working on?
Right now, a humongous historical fantasy epic. The first part is written, just in no fit state to be published. This follows on from a period detective novel that nineteen agents told me was in no fit state to be published, and after this I plan to write a contemporary urban fantasy that will likely be in no fit state to be published. Such is the pattern I have to live with.
How does my work differ from others of its genre?
Considering each genre individually, it probably doesn’t. But what I enjoy doing more than anything else is taking two or more genres that really don’t belong together and mashing them up to see what happens. Last Friday I posted a short story that bolted a contemporary political thriller onto a children’s Narnia-esque fantasy. It gives me a buzz.
Why do I write what I do?
It’s more to do with the characters than the work itself. I have this set stable of highly defined personalities rattling inside my head demanding that they exist in a vessel that won’t blink out of existence if it’s run over by a bus. I want the insecure and idiosyncratic Czech-Jewish abstract-art-sleuth Varví Dušek to exist. I want the mischievous and protective East End street urchin avatar of Indra Whippit to exist. I want the obsessive and antisocial conspiracy theorist and cricket bat-wielding enemy of quantum randomness Nancy Brilligan to exist. Before I started writing, these were amorphous sparks in my neurons. Now, they are binary data on my hard drive. Eventually, I want them to exist in people’s heads besides mine. Then I can be run over by a bus in peace.
How does my writing process work?
I carefully segregate blog writing and book writing. Blog writing takes place on the tube to and from work, a solid half hour each way with nothing to do except write a story, write an article, or draw a sketch, one of each every week. Book writing is weekend work, exactly the same as my proper weekday office work-work, which I set a target for every week. I get up, have breakfast, take a shower, get dressed, brew up a pot of coffee, sit down at my desk, put on some music and keep typing until the scene I’ve been mulling over in my head for half a decade is finally existent on the page. I write until I meet my target, then collapse and vegetate because that target is always 5,000 words. I don’t make notes, I don’t draw up charts, I don’t write when I’m “in the mood”, I don’t write a bit of chapter 17 before junking chapter 9 and resetting the novel in the miner’s strike on some stupid arbitrary whim…I start from the beginning, keep going till I get to the end, then stop. It’s hard, it’s frustrating, it’s debilitating and painful and I have to do it. That, in summation, is my writing process. For the love of god don’t follow my example, it isn’t worth it!
Others shall continue this good work on Monday 19th May. Unfortunately, I know not who. By all means scout around the links above and find works of considerably more generous calibre than my own to enjoy.