Cold Turkey.

Writers’ diary: stardate: 10.01.2014

My author-publisher start to the New Year feels similar in mood and results to how the kinder  (that’s kinder as in more charitable not as in egg) broadsheets have been moved to remark regarding David Moyes’ first season in charge at Man Utd – it’s not been the best of starts. And after all that positive looking back last week on such fond memories of 2013. That’ll teach me. If I haven’t made it plain thus far, I’m feeling a bit miserable. (Pity-post alert – DEFCON 5: that’s blue).

What is the source of my wretchedness? Apart from my weakly (?) blog-posts, I haven’t written anything new since…Twas the week before Christmas…(No, I’m not claiming to have written that poem. That was Clement Clarke Moore, of course.)

For as long as I can remember since this writing life got going, I get crotchety if I don’t write regularly. At times it feels like my authorial urges border on, if not an addiction (that’s a bit melodramatic but  arguably in keeping with this post), then obsessive – a compulsive habit – which I find easier to give into than to ignore. A bit like an open bottle of wine.

Like doing a line of the white stuff, writing takes me into a fantasy world; it gives me a high and makes me feel good about my day. But the more I do the more I want to do. (It is sounding a bit like an addiction, now.) However, unlike the white stuff, it costs nothing more than time and effort and the price of a happy marriage and I don’t sniff as much as I used to (unless I’m crying because I’m not writing as much as I want to.) (Pity-post alert – DEFCON 4: that’s green.)

I haven’t written anything because I’ve been doing those pesky edits of the R&M books. I finished my corrections of all three books last week. I had to read them each again on my laptop to do it. It was the best way. I remember writing on this blog something about not wanting to go too much to town on them because of what they represented regarding my authorial journey. (Why didn’t anyone tell me how stupid that viewpoint is?)

Anyway, all done and it was a great relief to have them out of the way (for about fifteen minutes). (Pity-post alert – DEFCON 3: that’s yellow.)

I thought I’d better check them before I uploaded them to Amazon – make sure the formatting was still good. So, I pinged them to Kindle, got them back and opened Rope Enough to skim read. What a mistake? Within two pages (that’s Kindle pages not A4 pages, so about twenty four words in total) I’d spotted four things I wanted to change – again. I kept going and there were more…and more…and more. In the end I threw in the towel, got the laptop fired up, opened the file and started reading Rope Enough again. I’ve nearly finished it. I’ve changed a lot this time. I had to. It’s still called Rope Enough, but only because I can’t afford a new cover.

Martin (he of the proofreading variety) will tell you of my love affair with the word ‘that’, which I seemed to insert into my early texts like a fruit machine addict inserts pound coins into…fruit machines. I’ve lost count of the number I have culled in this second run through. And I haven’t stopped there. Vocabulary that didn’t quite hit the spot or was just plain wrong, dialogue a bit wooden, punctuation, punctuation, punctuation!!! (as Tony Blair might say if he were my editor). I’m still never going to spot everything, but I’ve got to make it the best I can before I can be happy. (Epiphany alert: Maybe that’s my problem – I simply can’t be happy. Shit that explains a lot. It’s like someone’s just given me a pair of spectacles to correct my hindsight. I am able to view my past with a stark clarity. It makes me uncomfortable. Puts glasses back in case and throws case into a drawer.) (Pity-post alert – DEFCON 2: that’s red.)

It’s taking a long time because I’m trying to do it properly. (Like I never have before!) And because I haven’t got any bloody free time for anything at the moment! Almost one book down. Two books to go. I’ve got at least another month on this with the way the rest of my life is at present. (I’ve got two job interviews next week, and not only did I discover last night that my ‘interview suit’ no longer fits me, but also something has been nesting in my ‘interview shoes’. I have no idea how to get across Istanbul to these schools.  I’ve got a trip back home at the end of January and my sister tells me the winter weather has taken its toll on the roof ie it’s leaking like a sieve. I can’t afford roofers, so I’ll be up there in the pissing rain and wind, no doubt, with numbed fingers and a frozen back trying to patch it up. I don’t have a supportive spouse – not like all these other authors I read about who make me want to puke with their good fortune at marrying someone who gladly reads their books and offers suggestions; is happy to discuss plot issues over coffee and toast in the mornings; look after the kids, maybe, to give their writing partner time and peace to sit down and fucking write.) (Pity-post alert – DEFCON 1: that’s white, and goodbye cruel world.)

I got an email from a teacher recruitment agency this week advertising jobs in Hong Kong with an annual salary of £55,000 plus benefits. I mentioned this to my Turkish wife. She said if I go, I go alone. What did I say about temptation? I don’t want to end up like Gene in a couple of months. (What a great actor BTW – Hackman not me.)

12 thoughts on “Cold Turkey.

  1. What’s the cost of living like in Hong Kong? As it’s so crowded there I bet it’s high. Very very high…
    Bright and sunny here in Kent today. I actually went on the beach at Littlestone yesterday (rather than viewing it from the car). I expect we’ll get snow soon !

    • I reckon you’re right about the COL. Also, I was talking to an American who worked there a few years ago and he said it was worse for pollution than Beijing. Cross that one off the list.
      Glad to learn that the weather’s improving. Let’s hope it lasts.

      • Hong Kong is incredibly expensive. And humid. But you can commute by escalator (longest system in the world; they run downhill in the morning and uphill in the evening). So swings and roundabouts.

        “that” addiction is interesting. I think we all suffer from it until someone points it out. Then it sticks out a mile. It often crops up on Top 10 Writing Tips lists, along with adverb addiction.

      • Surely, escalators and escalators?
        Anyway, you are spot on about the after effects of a ‘that’ relationship. Every one I come across in other people’s writing, I end up wondering whether it could have been rooted out. Adverbs are next for me.

  2. Hey Oliver, if you’re coming anywhere near Dover on your trip home, could you pop round and do my roof too?!!! Trying to get a roofer round here is an impossibility.
    By the way, just reading the second Acer Sansom at the moment, thoroughly enjoyed the first one.

    • Andy,
      Good to know you’re enjoying Acer. Thanks.
      As for the roofing, best of luck. I can only imagine that all the roofers in our neck of the woods must be working flat out and raking it in after the recent storms.

  3. Perhaps you have laboured long enough on the 3 R&M books..I read them, enjoyed them and really the odd errors and punctuation didn’t distract from the story. Sometimes we can be a bit too picky and critical with our own work. Bring some sunshine into your life and write another Acer 🙂 Good luck with your interviews!

    • Hello!
      Of course, you are right. When does one draw the line under these things? I could go on and on editing and correcting and ‘improving’ for eternity. And it wouldn’t necessarily make any of the books better reads.
      I have a germ of an idea for the third Acer. I need to water it and love it for a little while yet and see what fruits it bears.
      Best wishes.

  4. After reading your latest blog it spurred me to consider writing an Agony Aunt column for depressed writers. Here’s my first:

    Stop feeling sorry for yourself, pull yourself together and get on with it. Stop clucking and accept you are addicted. The only line I’ve come across is a clothes line, but it is like sex: you need it. Remember writing is for adults as daydreaming is for children. THAT is a dead word. And stop whinging about not having a spouse sitting across the breakfast table talking about prose and poetry. My spouse is on plant politics, while I’m on planet novelist, never the twain meets, especially at breakfast. Hong Kong! Good God, I’d rather go to Mars. At DEFCON 1 I do hope you didn’t make too much mess, or did you have Rope Enough. (I’m laughing now at my own joke)

    Whoops, I think I have just lost my one and only virtual friend.

    Keep editing. Pat.

    • Hi Pat
      Never fear. That’s what virtual friends are for.
      Of course, you are quite right. I’m allowing my creative leanings to turn me into some sort of precious luvvie. Thanks for your honest and straight talking. (Bends over for kick up the backside.)
      Hong Kong is forgotten. I visited a great school today just a 20min walk from my front door.
      Finger off the button. Key away. Back to normal (ish).

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