In a recent television drama, a writer finds himself on a correction course with time on his hands. He opens his laptop and types ‘Chapter One’. By the end of the episode he types ‘The End’ and by the final frame he is discussing terms with his publisher. Oh, that life was that easy! I have been battling with my fourth book for eighteen months – possibly longer. Yesterday I removed two chapters and changed the title for the tenth time. I have killed off characters, made them undergo personality changes, and suffer endless agonies of suspense while awaiting their fate. I am reluctant to say my work is done, as after the proofreading there is always much amending to do. However, I am confident that the end is in sight and ROSE’S WAR will be launched by Christmas. Hooray.
For the most part, writing is a long slow process, although there are brief spells, and I mean spells, when the words flow with ease and fluidity : rare magic moments when everything in the heavens is in conjunction and the gods smile down on this poor mortal with a pen. Then there are times when one is god: killing people off, dangling lives on strings, juxtaposing prosperity with hardship, elation with despair, juggling with their lives to suit the fate one has decreed…the plot one has designed.
When I was an art student my tutor told me that, when painting, an artist is god. As a young painter that sounded fantastic. Now, with age and experience I realise that playing god, even for a brief period of creativity, is a heavy burden. Don’t get me wrong, I love writing, I even enjoy the frustrating process of editing and re-editing, but I am glad that my own life is is the hands of another writer. Oh, I can dictate, I can rant, I can demand, I can even comply, but at the end of the day a greater force than I – let’s call it life – dictates which pages I appear on. It presents me with the characters I will meet and those I must interact with. It chooses my path, and guides my passage, even telling me when I must leave the narrative, knowing that the book will continue without me. To quote Dylan Thomas , I shall not go gently into the night, but then neither shall I complain about my lot. Whoever, or whatever author penned my life they have been kind to me. I just hope they have written a paragraph or two about my next book, granting it the same ease of passage the author in that stupid television drama was given.
Meanwhile I shall keep scribbling: juggling the words that flow and fall in blots from my faithful old Osmiroid, hoping that they will land well enough to amuse any reader who stumbles across them.
ROSE’S WAR: begins in 1905 – ends in 1955, but the bit in the middle is riveting! Out soon. Published by Unicorn Publishing.