The above tweet is not only a shining example of the kind of dazzlingly witty offering I make over on that strange platform but a fair indication of my state of mind. I am trying to write, but my brain is like a sack of cats floating along a river… some ideas are treading water, some are floundering, but there’s always one or two of the sharp-clawed little bastards clinging to the trouser leg of creativity. I am, in fact, writing almost every day and batting at a fairly decent average, but it seems quite difficult to remain focused, and I have absolutely no semblance of a routine whatsoever. I would love to be one of those sprightly people who leap out of bed at 5am, go for a walk, learn something new, and be creative all before the rest of the world wakes up, but… I am not.
If I was to wake up early, I would probably spend those extra hours mainlining coffee and giving my thumb a good stretch as I scroll through whatever unmissable, addictive bollocks happened on my phone throughout the night. God forbid I miss a Neil Gaiman tweet or yet another article from the British press about how much of a bitch Megan Markle supposedly is (Harry for king in case you’re wondering… just for the laughs and the apoplectic rage from posh English gammons. There would be top hats toppling and monocles a-poppin all over the place!)
And let’s take now for instance, this very moment as I type these words on my veranda on a cool morning while the neighbourhood dogs scream bloody murder, the lady next door roars at her children and the smell of frying bacon wafts over the rooftops… this is perfect for writing! So what am I doing? That’s right, tapping out this asinine nonsense instead of giving 100% to my latest work in progress. And do you know the reason? It’s because I’m scared. I am writing about my grandad, my hero, the shadow who has forever been with me since he left us 34 years ago. When you’re a little boy and your strong, quiet grandfather is a genuine war hero it leaves a mark on a kid. I’ve wanted to write his story since before I could read and now that I have five books being published in the next few years and THOUSANDS of words of practice behind me I am finally doing it. The working title, Shadows in the Sand, is fast approaching fifty thousand words but I have never been plagued by more doubt. I write horror stories… with a comedy twist… it seems wrong somehow to use this genre to write about the lived experiences of a soldier, of a man I care so deeply about. In fact, those are the paraphrased words of my own father when I first brought up the idea, but then dad said something else that really stuck with me… “I think Dad would appreciate the preservation of some of his experiences.” And my god, what experiences! The research has revealed stunning details, events and circumstances that just fly onto the page. I find myself writing in a mad fever and a few thousands words appear beneath my fingers as if by magic but then I get caught on a detail I MUST get right and I slow to a snail’s pace. On my best day with this novel, I wrote over five thousand words. Two days ago, I wrote 192. Yesterday, I had an idea.
That’s it, an idea. Just another cat scratching for attention, but I think it’s a good one.
And yet here I am, writing nonsense in a quiet corner of the internet instead of getting on with it.
What is it grandad used to say… “push on”.
Okay, the distractions are done with now, it’s time to take his advice.