Tuesday, 14 January 2014

Where did it all go? Here (soon)

In case you were one of the few following this story, in its many on-line instalments, and were wondering where it's all gone, well, clearly I've pulled it. Why? Because it, as a novel-length work, is nearly finished... and when it's finished, I'm going to proof-read it, edit it and then dish it out to some trusted writing friends (be warned, I'm looking at you here, IN, MSK, SJD and RH).

Then, when I've collated and, where appropriate, acted on their feedback I'm going to have a go at getting someone to publish it. Now I'm guessing that most publishers would find a novel that is already published on-line, even in draft, a less attractive prospect, and so I've pulled everything that was here. Sorry.

For those that are interested (you, hopefully), I've left a sample extract up here - please, do with that as you will.

If I can't find a publisher (and let's be honest, that is very hard to do), then I'll self-publish it as an e-book, paperback and maybe even hardback. If I do, the cover might look a bit like this.

Whatever happens with DTTDE, when it's finished and out there I'll write more about it here. Until then...

Friday, 20 August 2010

I can only see it because I know it's there

Driving home tonight, I decide to turn off from the main road, and do the last seven or so miles of my journey cross-country. I tell myself this is on a whim. Whatever the reason, it makes a nice change - the narrow green lanes are preferable to the straight grey of the A road, even if it does take twice as long to cover the same distance.

After I have had to back up to let a tractor pass and squeeze the Polo into the neck of a farm track to let a Range Rover through (far be it for the off-roader to go off road, of course), I remember why I don't come this way more often. One of the reasons anyway. Still, it's shaping up to be a beautiful summer's evening - sunlight is finding its way through the creaking branches of trees to my left. Nature's heliograph. Thoughts of Alan, Craig, BuyLo customer profiles and Steer House start to dissolve.

I turn left into Long Lane - well, that's what we called it when we were kids. It's an unnamed road on maps, if it's even shown at all. Lined on both sides with trees that meet overhead, the lane is a dark tunnel after the dappled, slanting sunlight. I put the Polo in neutral, take my foot off the accelerator and let myself gather momentum down the steep decline.

We roll, the Polo and I, daring each other not to touch the brakes. Long Lane is narrow, and by the time we're half way down it feels reckless to take the kinks and bends at such speed. Just before the bottom though, just before we pop like a champagne cork back into the sunlight, cornfields on either side, I know that I must start to slow down, that there is that sharp corner coming. I ease onto the brakes and drop the Polo back into gear - it complies with the mildest of grinding complaints.

Just after the corner, there is a tiny lay-by on the left, and I pull over and switch off the car. I don't know if I want to do this. I haven't done it in a while, but it seems right somehow, especially given what I'm going to do tomorrow. After all, I didn't really come home this way on a whim, did I?

I walk back to the corner and step up onto the verge so that I can lean on the fence that separates the field from the road. Here, in the shade of The Tree, it feels surprisingly cool but then, given the size of the oak, this particular spot probably hasn't been in the sun since mid-morning. There is no way you could tell, from looking at The Tree, that it had been in a fight with Emma's car. It was more than four years ago, I suppose. And like I said, when it's car versus tree the tree nearly always wins. Even so, I always expect to see something when I stand here - I always hope that The Tree bears a scar. You wouldn't even notice the difference in the fence. I can only see it because I know it's there: the way the creosote is slightly less weathered on this beam than on all the others.

I stand here, looking at The Tree and losing track of time. There is no traffic - no-one comes this way if they can help it. It's so quiet, I can hear individual voices in the insect life of the field beyond, each buzz, every chirrup. The sun is so low now it's making its way back under the canopy of The Tree. It is idyllic, and so I try to replay good times: that week in the Italian Lakes, moving Em into her new flat, the weekend in Brighton when we joked about who would push whom along the prom when we were old and grey.

The trouble with reliving moments though is that they tend to give rise to what happened next, and soon I am reliving other times. Before long, I am replaying the last argument we had, the one in which she asked if I knew what uxorious meant. I accused her of throwing her education in my face and stormed out without saying goodbye. The next time I saw her was at the hospital, and by that time she couldn't hear me, whatever I said to her.

I step out from under The Tree, and resolve to stop coming here. It's well after seven, and time I was getting on.

Wednesday, 16 June 2010


In his excellent book On Writing Stephen King suggests that you don't need to know how a story ends to make a start on writing it. You don't even need to know what happens in the middle. All you need is a character, and to put that character in a situation. The idea is just to start writing, and discover for yourself what happens next.

Well I've got a character, and I've got a situation. What I don't know is what's going to happen next but I'm going to try the King approach and just start writing, because I want to find out.

The problem I have is that I'm not one of the fortunate minority who make their living from their writing, and who have the time to write every day. I have a busy work life and, right now, an even busier home life. Despite my best intentions, finding time to just sit down and write is hard sometimes. What I need is some kind of framework, some more pressing motivation... in short, I need deadlines.

That's where this blog comes in. I intend to write a few hundred words each week, and publish them here every Friday. See? A deadline. I'll have to write something, otherwise.... well, you know, the whole shebang will come crashing down.

My intention is that the story, whatever it may end up as, will unwind over a period of weeks, kind of like an old serial novel or chapter play. Right now, I've no idea whether it'll end up as a short story (in which case this blog will be done and dusted in a month or so), a novella or something longer. Also, I'm hoping that anyone who reads this might offer constructive criticism via the blog's comments facility.

Let's see how it goes then, shall we? I'll post the opening paragraphs this Friday... better get writing!