Sunday, 11 January 2009

Numpty Strikes Out Again

Not that I wish to start the year on a negative note - and aware, also, that I'm running a little late with the resolutions part of the new year - but my ambition for 2009 was, I'm afraid, born of A Bit Of An Emo.

Looking back at last year's resolutions, I don't think I've done too badly, money aside, and I was doing pretty well with that until the credit crunched - or, as Ian put it, the arrival of the money munch.

I did escape England and in six weeks I'll be doing so again on my Yankland extravaganza with W*P*D - I might be a year late, but I'm going to Las Vegas to see Vici after all. I did learn new skills, I did read better (I'm even a regular reader of The Spectator these days) and I did, in general terms, Be Better, although not in the specific ways I had planned. Tim is going to need to buy those bigger robes and grow his beard, as his position as Entertainment Guru (barring the unpleasant experience of watching The Spirit) was fully secured. And I carried through one particular resolution that changed everything else along with it - I never spoke of it here, and still won't, but most of you know what I'm on about. And if not, feel free to ask.

And, best of all, I discovered just how talented and amazing all my friends are, and got to spend a considerable amount of time investigating said marvellousness and then boasting that I know them. That wasn't on the list, but I count it as an achievement.

But then there's the downside: I'm not a lot closer to finishing the dusty book that's plagued me for so long. I wrote some, promptly hated it (as is my wont) and set it aside for a while, telling myself it would come when it was ready - then changed that thought to: "Well maybe it's not the one I should start with, it's a bit ambitious what with all the research and trying to talk like an Egyptian". That's talk, not walk.

So I started a new one, stunning myself one evening with a cracking idea that not only fed into all my geeky loves in life - angels, fantasy and so on - but would also let me write in the style I'm comfortable with. Perfect, I thought, and sat down to write the first page.

It was met with varying reactions. W*P*D declared it hilarious and immediately offered to illustrate every chapter (if you've seen any of her paintings, you'll know just how hoppingly exciting that is) and Tim and Ghost liked the idea and are considering donating chapters of their own.

But then I sent it to MummyC, who said only that it was overwritten and awkward. I rewrote it, she liked it better, but both Ghost and I think it's completely lost its soul.

Which triggered a realisation. When it comes to writing, I'm perfectly happy wittering away on this blog - and on Perplexed and the City - and I've never had any qualms when it comes to tapping the keyboard at work. I think the number of magazine articles I've seen published now tops the 100 mark - I have a portfolio of them up here, if you're particularly lacking for things to do, but please bear in mind they weren't written for the intellectual portion of society. It's not an achievement I ought to dismiss, but somehow I do.

The second I open the files for either of my books, I immediately want to slit my wrists - I can't relax into it, so it comes out self-consciously. I go back to them frustrated, read them over, hate what I've written with every fibre of my being and throw a small tantrum that ends with a sworn oath to NEVER BLOODY BOTHER AGAIN.

I've wanted to write fiction since I was a child. I vaguely recall mentioning this before - I can't be bothered to check - but I first had a go at writing a book when I was about 13. It went marvellously: it was based on the wonderfully cheesy Point Horror series and managed to include virtually every possible means of killing off your characters within 100 pages. I had classmates sat next to my desk waiting for me to finish the next page and then passing it round - mind you, I cunningly named characters after some of them in an early demonstration of marketing prowess. A fair number of other attempts followed as the years went by, but not one of them is finished, and I eventually lost the will to try.

It wasn't until I met Ghost that I realised just how well I'd walled off that part of me with bricks made of stupid excuses. Watching his constant creativity, going starry-eyed over everything he creates, tapping into his ever-artistic brain (it was he who inspired the newest of my never-to-be-a-books), passing many a happy hour talking of plots and characters and ideas - it woke back up the hunger, and with it the fear.

Because the truth is, I'm just scared to fail.

Then what would I dream of?

And that long-winded explanation brings me to this year's belated resolution: I will write The Guardians (the new one), without flailing back and forth to find reasons not to and without sneaky avoidance tactics. And what's more, I'll write it without coming back the next day and whining that I don't like what I've written, oh yes I will.

Because if I don't, W*P*D is going to be stuck with an empty wall where the paintings ought to be and I'll still be irritating everyone by complaining I can't do it without finding out whether I can when I'm old, grey and can't see the keyboard.

p.s. I just realised I wrote this post instead of getting on with the book. Oh the irony.