Proclaiming a naming, an inflaming and an acclaiming.

Named: The Sixth Romney and Marsh File.

Inflamed: a fitness instructor.

Acclaimed: that’s him up top.

Read on to find out more.

It’s been a good week for me: me the writer, me the born again fitness freak, me the solitary person.

The Halfling started school on Monday so I’ve been responsibility free throughout the days. That’s been good for all three of me (the writer, the born again fitness freak and the solitary person).

I finally gave the sixth Romney and Marsh File a name – Unhappy Families. It works and it fits. But I don’t know how the cover designer is going to get the R&M Files signature effect into the typography. Not my problem.

Then I gave it a couple of read-throughs. A bit of tweaking here and there. Next job is to get it printed off somewhere. (How I miss school sometimes.) Then I’ll give it some read-throughs with the highlighter pens. I like that bit.

Then when I’m as happy as I can be I’ll send it off to my gentleman friend for some proofreading and editing suggestions. And forget about it for a while.

Last Wednesday I started my next book. Surprise, surprise – R&M #7. It’s started well. I’m twenty-thousand words in with lots of places to go in my head and lots to write. And I have a title. It’s a good one. I just have to make the book fit it. If I can’t I’ll change the title, not the book.

I’m reflecting on how it’s been this week, the first week of living the writing life. OK, actually. Sitting on my backside all day, drinking tea and making stuff up seems to suit me. But I am mindful that I’ve got to get out and about from time to time. The school run (walk) morning and afternoon helps. And, as mentioned before, I’ve joined a gym. I’m getting into that. I just hope I haven’t spoiled things for myself there.

There are two types of men who visit the gym: those who can’t get enough of looking at themselves in the walls of mirrors and those who, like me, spend all our session trying to avoid our reflections.

I found a real running top in the back of the wardrobe last week. I’ve been wearing it at the gym in the hope that I can get a faster time on the treadmill for my warm up run. (A bit like racing stripes on a boy-racer’s car and about as effective.)Trouble is the top is a bit tight and the material has started chaffing. I’ve run off and on for the last thirty years but this is the first time in my life I’ve suffered with jogger’s nipple. It is excruciatingly painful and quite distracting when one is engaged in the act of running, even on the spot on a treadmill. (Why does that seem like such a waste of time?)

When I got off the treadmill today at the end of my regular 100 metres jog my right nipple really was sore. I needed to check it out so I slipped into one of the empty side rooms. As luck would have it just as I was preparing to investigate, one of the fitness coaches entered in search of something. (All the fitness instructors down there are big, beefy and hirsute, especially the men.) He saw me in obvious discomfort and using signs and body language asked if I was OK. I shook my head. But not knowing how to communicate my problem I lifted up my shirt and pointed to my nipple. In a bid to make him understand I used a finger to gently caress it. Because it was sore I was unable to stop myself from making noises associated with the sharp intaking of breath. I might also have moaned.

His expression changed from professional concern to something a lot darker and more personal. He stormed out muttering and slammed the door making the glass in the windows rattle. It didn’t occur to me until he’d left that my performance could be misinterpreted. Pleasure and pain, like other extremes such as love and hate are often confused. (If I see him in the communal showers I’ll turn my back on him. [Maybe that’s not such a good idea.])

I kept my head down when I left. I just hope he’s forgotten all about it by Monday. Ah, Monday when everyone’s back at work and school. I can’t wait.


I think it never hurts to get a reminder, some reinforcement, of the basics of a trade in which one is working. It’s a well known maxim in the writing trade that writers need to read. I had my reminder of that this week.

I got my hands on two books recently that I’ve been looking forward to reading: The Martian by Andy Weir – Hollywood blockbuster movie out now – and The Moving Target the first in the Lew Archer series of detective novels by Ross MacDonald.

I started with The Martian. I packed that in after about 10%. I’m not saying it isn’t a great book (I can’t after only 10%) but the writing didn’t grab me. I will try it again sometime.

I went straight onto The Moving Target and immediately understood what The Martian  had been missing for me. Cracking dialogue, superbly and economically drawn characters (The operator was a frozen virgin who dreamed about men at night and hated them in the daytime.), descriptive language that, like Chandler, is so concise and perfect, and fast moving plot. Every line was a joy to read. A pleasure.

I’m not comparing the books. They are so different in concept that they can’t be compared. I understand the limitations of having one man on Mars. I just didn’t enjoy reading about it.

The reinforcement I got from reading MacDonald was the need in my line of writing country to aim to write more like him.

I have a lot of time for that era of American fiction: Raymond Chandler, John D MacDonald and now my new discovery. I hope all the Lew Archer novels are as good because there are quite a few of them. I’m interested to find more authors of that time and place.

(PB: 10k – 42.30.)

12 thoughts on “Proclaiming a naming, an inflaming and an acclaiming.

  1. As ever, you do make me smile! Hope your jogger’s nipple is recovered, you just have to use that scene in a novel some day!
    Congrats on the new title, Unhappy Families. Looking forward to reading it. And 20k into the 7th, that writing full-time sure is working for you! I generally have a title pretty early on although I had to change my first ever title – I thought I was being clever until I checked out Amazon only to find several other people had used the same title before me!
    I’ll check out The Moving Target, I really need to read more and not bury myself in my writing/facebook.
    Really glad to hear it’s working out for you, it makes me believe that one day I’ll be able to do the same 🙂

    • Thanks, Valerie. I’ve taken another reader’s advice and invested in some plasters. They are helping.
      I know what you mean about the title thing and Amazon. It’s so difficult to be original. If I could have my writing time again I think I’d really try to make all my titles unique. Too late now. But they all work for me and the books so no great regrets. (No one has the title to R&M7 so I’m keeping it a highly guarded secret. 🙂
      I love that hard-boiled writing and Ross MacDonald is a great new find for me.
      Keep writing and one year just take the plunge and take a sabbatical. What’s the worst that can happen?
      Best wishes.

  2. For the nipple problem a couple of plasters will work, been there done that. I fyou have a third nipple then a third plaster would be recommended. Looking forward to R&M 6.

  3. Wow you have been busy
    Not sure I’m keen on you spending time at the gym though.I believe you said you were to become a “full time writer” did you not?
    Seriously though I was over the moon when I read the words “Last Wednesday I started my next book. Surprise, surprise – R&M #7.”
    I think my husband is getting a bit concerned at my reaction to these messages
    It could be because the usual response is usually a loud excited yell and maybe even a jump out of my seat.
    Do you think R and M 6 could be available by Christmas?
    I hope so and i will be putting an Amazon gift voucher on my Christmas list just in case

    So here’s hoping the nipples are feeling better and the words keep flowing

    • Hi Denise,
      I think I’d go stir crazy if I had to stay in all day every day. (And between ourselves I have another project for later this year that involves me being a lot fitter than I am now.) Still plenty of time for writing though. 🙂
      It put a smile on my face to learn of your reaction to my writing. news. 🙂
      I really hope to have R&M#6 ready before Christmas. I’m working towards that. I’ll keep updating the blog with news and that score.
      Best wishes.

  4. Hi there Oliver,
    Will avoid the subject of your nipples, but I will continue banging on about ‘less is more’ because I’ve had to abandon quite a few books lately which does not bode well when I have paid for them. The trap of thinking more wordage makes for a better novel can, in the end, impede its flow, which gives rise to readers’ frustration.
    By the way I like the title for No. 6.

    • Hi Pat,
      Couldn’t agree more that less is more. I’m increasingly finding that the bits of books I like best and am interested in most are the dialogues between characters. I wonder if I could write a story with nothing but dialogue.
      Elmore Leonard said: if it sounds like writing cut it out. He was right. It’s a difficult thing to juggle.
      I’m also developing an aversion to adverbs and adjectives. (Soon there won’t be much left for me to enjoy in a story.) 😦
      The title is simple and, sadly, not original, but it works as well as anything. 🙂
      Best wishes.

      • Hi there Oliver,
        Your comments about dialogue I found interesting as I, too, am finding it’s the dialogue that moves the story along, not the prose, which fills in the back-story for us. You can tell an awful lot about a character by what he/she says, and how he/she says it, along with their body language of course. My latest book is mostly dialogue, and I am always searching for different ways for a character to say something which isn’t clichéd or stilted. But saying that, I am finding it increasingly difficult to write good effective dialogue these days, more so than prose.
        Perhaps we are closet playwrights, Oliver.
        All the best, and keep writing:-)

      • Hi Pat,
        Sorry for delay of my reply.
        Maybe it’s a maturing author thing. Greater understanding of what’s best in a story. Maybe it’s that dialogue is just more fun to write than prose (for me it is.).
        I have written a couple of screenplays and also a Romney and Marsh play script, which I would love to put on somewhere. I have plans for other writing of this type. I like the idea that dialogue can really drive the story and exist without the prose.
        Best wishes as always.

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