Some say that truth can be stranger than fiction. I say there is nothing stranger than when truth meets fiction. My current read is Misery by Stephen King. I’m fifty-two years old. I’ve been an avid reader all my adult life. This is my first Stephen King. I really can’t say why I have been putting him off for so long. I’ll be reading more and soon. I’m loving Misery. Actually, what I’m loving is King’s way with words. He does make you feel: horror, humour, despair, anger, fear… it’s all in there and I’m only halfway through it. I am truly frightened of the female lead in this book.
One of the two central characters is an author who has been horribly injured in a car crash in the middle of nowhere in heavy snow. He is rescued by a retired psychotic nurse who takes him home with her and proceeds to make his life a Misery. The man’s name is Paul Sheldon.
Sheldon is confined to a room for months as he is forced by the woman, Annie Wilkes, to write another novel in a series she adored but that he had abandoned. Naturally, he starts going mad.
On Wednesday of this week, October, 21st, I finished the first draft of the seventh in my Romney and Marsh Files series. It shall be called A White-Knuckle Christmas. I started this book on the 29th of September. That means I wrote the first draft in twenty-three days. It’s eighty thousand words. Pretty good going for me. A personal best. (If I’d delayed a bit and written it next month I could have entered NaNoWriMo and maybe won a prize.) But like Paul Sheldon I think that the price for my achievement might be high.
Like Paul Sheldon I think I might be suffering with a bit of cabin fever – I might have pushed my limits too far on this one. And living with my version of ‘Annie’ isn’t helping. The similarities are uncanny. It might not be wise for me to delve into specific examples too deeply on a public forum for fear of repercussions in the form of unwanted and medically unnecessary amputations of bits of me while I’m asleep. I truly wouldn’t put it past my ‘Annie’ these days. It’s almost like my state of stir crazy is having a symbiotic and inverse knock-on effect on her complete with violent mood swings, unreasonable expectations (why should I wash the dishes, make the bed, tidy up a bit just because I’m home all day?) and other myriad examples of disturbing behaviour that suggest I’m shacked up, like Paul Sheldon, with a nutcase teetering on the cusp of a sociopathic episode.
One incident I feel it’s OK to mention is that in the book Paul Sheldon breaks out of his room and while exploring the house in his wheelchair he picks up an ornament… and doesn’t put it back in the exact same place. Annie notices and there is hell to pay (and a body part). The other day while the Halfling and I were putting our shoes on to go to school there was a yelling from the front room, something about who’s been playing with my organisations? (A silver goblet had been moved out of alignment with its twin.) There followed the thundering of heavy slippers approaching rapidly. When our ‘Annie’ showed her murderous mush round the door frame the Halfling and I pointed at each other. Those manic eyes danced between us, like tadpoles on acid, for the truth and with a snarl and threats for what would happen to anyone caught playing with things that don’t belong to them our ‘Annie’ was gone. Life imitating art.
Like Paul Sheldon I worry about waking in the middle of the night in the middle of a thunder storm to find my ‘Annie’ glowering at me from the foot of the bed with a hatchet in her hand and evil on her unhinged mind shouting something about putting dirty plates in the dishwasher.
As well as paying a high price mentally for my art I am also suffering physically. I cannot be certain yet that my problem is a side effect of spending hours a day on my backside in my new writer’s chair or something else. I am monitoring the situation and the factors I believe worthy of consideration regarding it.
To give the best idea of my physical problem this picture will paint at least a couple of hundred painful words.
Whenever I’ve seen the angry looking hind quarters of a red-arsed baboon my first thought has always been, is that as sore as it looks? And now I know. From experience. It is.
I think I am suffering from a nasty case of ‘writer’s arse’. Followers of this blog may remember my recent brush with ‘jogger’s nipple’ and of course there is ‘athlete’s foot’. Why not ‘writer’s arse’?
It is the skin of my buttocks and rear of my upper thighs that is affected. I’m afflicted with a constant chronic itching sensation. Our washing powder brand has not changed so it’s not that. (And in any case it’s only my backside that is causing problems). It can’t be the covering material of my new writer’s chair. (I have tried cushions and T-shirts as barriers between the fabric and me. And I don’t type in the nude anyway.) It could be those new skin-tight lycra running shorts I bought at the gym. (I want to ask my fitness instructor if anyone else is having similar issues with their cut price clothing but after the incident with my nipples I’m not keen to start on about my bum. That really could mean trouble for me.) But it could also be the fact that I’m spending so long sitting down at a desk each day.
The irritation is something excruciating. I’m scratching all day and night. Thank heavens my route for walking the Halfling to school is relatively unpopulated – I’m going down the road like the missing link. Or I was until I found the one thing that soothes it – the liberal application of Sudocream to the affected area. I discovered this desperate measure on Tuesday. It had worked for my son’s nappy rash and we had some over. I would have tried anything by then. Clearly. The relief was something divine. After only a couple of minutes the urge to sandpaper my backside back to the bone had gone. I lay down on my front on the floor of my son’s bedroom with my boxers round my knees just letting the Sudocream do its thing. The next thing I knew ‘Annie’ (home from work unexpectedly early) was kicking me in the side wanting to know what the hell I was doing unconscious on the floor of the boy’s bedroom with my pants round my knees, the greased arse of a cross channel swimmer and a half empty pot of Sudocream rolling around the floor. Thank God I hadn’t been munching my way through a bag of carrots when I passed out.
A couple of articles I came across this week that I found interesting.
Joanne Harris and I have at least one thing in common: I’m always banging the ‘writers are nothing without readers’ drum. She says something very similar. Maybe a bit too similar. Maybe I should have a word with my legal team. Plagiarism is not nice Ms Harris.
And something I learned from Mark Dawson’s success:
I should have created an email contacts list. He claims to have thousands on his. Can you go wrong with a new book release with that sort of ready made and waiting market of readers?
I’ve been talking about looking at my online presence with a view to making it more professional looking. I was wondering about employing a web designer to make me a website. I can’t afford it. So I looked at my WordPress site (the one you’re looking at now) and thought to take on board some advice I’ve seen around the Internet regarding presentation and bring it to bear here. I’ve simplified it and focussed more on the content. I’ve decluttered the home page and standardised the other pages with book links and spiel. I also have a really good idea for a banner heading, which I’m speaking to my cover designer about soon. (The temporary one is fine for now.) I’m actually quite happy with the changes.
Back soon. Her indoors is calling me. Hang on! Did she shout: Paul!? Aaaaarrrgggghhhhh
PB: 10k – 42.01