I signed up to write a fifty thousand word novel in less than eighteen days I'd tell you it was because I was confident of being able to do so. But honestly I'd be lying out my teeth. I did it because I was looking for something to keep my mind off cigarettes.
I've smoked for the last 20 years and recently gave up the demon weed because I had the horrible experience of seeing someone I care about lying in a hospital bed with pneumonia. She was breathing (if you can call it that) oxygen from a tube stuck up her nose and had a drip in her arm. The colour had gone from her face and there was an underlying look of fear in those pretty brown eyes of hers. So that was it for me. No more cigarettes. No more lighting up, no more inhaling smoke deep into my battle scarred lungs and no more looking cool.
I should prepare for the following days of sitting in front of the computer; I should outline a story; I should think of characters that add depth and give you the reader someone to care for; I should get a whiteboard and some highlighters and do a complicated time-line to help me with the plot; But I've not got the time to do that so, fuck that nonsense. I'm just going get get stuck in.
I mean, surely fifty thousand words can't be that difficult. Shit, Keroauc sat down and wrote “On the Road” in one sitting. Or is that just Urban Legend? Who knows. Wikipedia probably does but I've not got the time to look it up right now. Well, actually I do but if I am to ever finish this gig I must stay away from the time stealing distraction that is the internet.
I love the internet. Love it. Like nothing I've ever loved before. Where else can you find, not only, the accumulated knowledge of the world but also video of stuff like Two Girls One Cup and more porn than one man can reasonably look at in ten lifetimes? Nowhere.
But that's not getting anything approaching a novel done...
So, plot... Should I write a thriller in a Dan Brown vein? At least that way I can write pages and pages of utterly pointless descriptive narrative in order to pad it out and make it look wordy. Or should I write something in the TeenVampire/TeenWizard/TeenMonster genre in the hope that it'll take off like J. K. Rowling's Harry Potter series and I can get rich and spend buckets of money buying my own island somewhere.
Then again that's gonna take something approaching talent and I'm short on that right now.
I could do with a cigarette right about now. Sure it's not good for me but it helps get the creative juices flowing. Well, that's what I think anyhow. And who are you to tell me different? Huh? Who the fuck do you think you are? God? Ha! Fuck you! I spit in your eye and call you a big girls blouse...
I'm sorry, I've no idea where that came from. Maybe I should stop thinking about cigarettes and start concentrating on characters for this novel. I should have at least one male lead so I'll start with him...
He's a handsome rugged type. He's sporty, well educated and suave. He's of Italian parentage. He's dark haired with what women would call “Smouldering” eyes and good manners. He's probably named Fabio St-John Farthington, has perfect teeth, is tall, tanned and toned like a Grecian God and
he's getting on my nerves already. Fuck him. He's being killed off in the first chapter and I'm going to replace him with someone we normal people can associate with.
Alfie Stark ~ A Butchers apprentice from Chester. He's down to earth, swears in the company of the boys but never says the word “Cunt” in front of women; He goes to the football every Saturday and cheers on his local team but has never joined in on the whole “Football is more important that life” nonsense that many of his friends ascribe to. He's got a squint nose from when it was broken in an accident involving a bacon slicer. (The Bacon slicer subsequently moved away and patched things up with her husband.) He's what his friends would describe as a “Salt of the earth” type. He's a good guy in a world where values are no longer valued, where morals are considered immoral and where holding a door open for the wrong woman can bring accusations of chauvinism. In short, he's pretty well everything to everyone. Except the husband of a former bacon slicer. To him he's a fucking prick and should be strung up like so many pounds of whitepudding.
So, that's my male lead sorted out. Now I need a female lead...
Erin McFadyen ~ She's a projectionist in a local old style cinema. She lives in Chester now but was born in Nottingham and raised in Loughborough. She's travelled about a bit thanks to her dad being in the T.A and longs to go to Thailand for an extended holiday. She's socially awkward and just a little bit of a geek. She's red-haired, nothing spectacular to look at and feels out of place wherever she is. She's a film buff who rates the early work of Hitchcock as his best and thinks Quentin Tarantino is a big chinned fuck. She knows her way around a computer and has more friends online than she'll ever have in real life. She's had one boyfriend and one awkward lesbianistic fumble with a girl from Scunthorpe.
How's that for a female lead? Yeah, I thought so too. Now I need a setting. Looks like it's going to be Chester. Maybe I should look up some interesting points in Chester, for background. All I know about Chester is that it's got a zoo. At least I'm sure that there's a Zoo in Chester. Maybe I dreamed that... Nope... According to a tourist website I just looked up Chester indeed does have a Zoo. Not only that but it has “A wide variety of walking tours” and “Boasts the largest garden zoo in England and is the UK's number one wildlife attraction.” Well, fuck me, who would have thought Chester was so full of such wonderful ways to spend your time...
Maybe I need to rethink the location of my novel. Going by what the website points out as “places of interest” Chester seems to be a bit of a shithole. Perhaps I should make the location somewhere more exotic, somewhere where the sun shines more than one day a year and the populace is less miserable than a chronic depressive at a Morrisey concert.
Lyon ~ France. Home to many attractive people and places to visit. There are twenty museums in Lyon alone. Twenty! Good lord, that's a lot of museums. Chester has one. And it looks like somewhere the dead wouldn't even visit... Lyon also has a river running through it. It looks quite like somewhere I'd like to go for a weekend. It looks clean and the people look like they've read books with complicated words in it. Unlike Chester, which looks to all intents and purposes like no one there has ever read anything that didn't have pictures to help explain what was going on in the story. The people of Lyon have read Jean-Paul Satre, the people of Chester think Jean-Paul Satre designs jeans.
Of course if I move the setting to Lyon then the main characters are going to have to be adapted to fit the location. After all who's going to believe that those two people could in any way be French? The French are suave and sophisticated and those characters would be as out of place as someone with talent being on the X-Factor. I'm sure we'd all agree that's something that's never going to happen.
So, now that the location has changed I should alter the main characters stories to fit. Alfie is now Alfredo. The rest can stay the same. You don't like it? Tough. I'm the one writing this thing. Not you. And quite frankly if I don't keep writing I'm going to run out the door like a world champion sprinter straight to the local shop and buy a pack of cigarettes.
Next I need a basic plot. Should it be a love story? Or an adventure story? Maybe it could be a farce? The French like a good farce. Look at their history for gods sake! It's one catastrophe after another and they always manage to get through it with nothing more than a shrug of the shoulders, a “Ce la vie” and the casual lighting of another Gauloise... Christ I hate the French.
France is out and frankly Chester seems too bloody dull to set a story in so I'm going to have to rethink this whole thing and instead do what most writers do. Write about what I know. And therein lies a big problem. I know nothing. Nada. Zip. Zilch. Zero. Well, that's not strictly true, I do know some things. They're just not that interesting. Not really.
So, having existed for less than an hour Alfredo and Erin are now consigned to the bin of characters that never were and I'm back to square one. I've not passed go, I've not collected $200 and I'm still 48,394 words short of finishing this thing. Maybe I've overstretched myself on this one. It's basically a long rambling screed that's on par with the worst writing ever committed to paper. Or pixels as the case may be.
Right! First things first, I need a coffee, and a cigarette... Fuck.
Anyway... Back to the writing. Or at least I'm trying to but there's three women having a conversation behind me, my sister and two of her pals, and they're doing the usual “we're-having-a-conversation-so-everyone-should-hear-us” thing and it's putting me off. What's the gig with women? How can they possibly have a conversation with four, five and sometimes six of them involved, all be talking at the same time and yet never lose the place any of them are at? If four guys were to try that their heads would explode like they were starring in a David Kronenburg film.
Then again, blokes can piss standing up. Who'd not like that as a skill?