Writing is the best fun you can have by yourself.
The cleanest thing you do on your own at least.
I love writing. So much that I have written half a dozen books or so in the last five years.
I am prolific enough to be able to finish one book and then start on another as I edit the first. If I were a published author, I would be a publisher’s wet dream. And there is the rub. I have no wish to be published or for anyone to read anything that I have written.
Whenever people ask if I have written a book, I always say no because it seems like a better answer than having to go over my reasons for not wanting to be published. People don’t understand somebody who writes for the sheer joy of writing. I am comfortable with not being published.
I think I am good at writing. The few people that have seen my work have enjoyed it. One publisher that I did send a book to said that they enjoyed it but would only publish if I took out certain aspects of it. This, I have to say, soured the notion of being published. I had only sent the manuscript on a whim, just to see what would happen. The aspects were nothing too special in the context of what I had written or what the publishers usually published but I felt it was worth making a stand over since it would have skewed the plot slightly.The idea of removing parts of my work just doesn’t sit right with me in any case unless there is a valid reason such as it doesn’t fit in with the book, it is badly written, too long, or just plain naff. So that was it as far as I am concerned.
I think I might mention some of the stuff I written. I won’t mention everything especially not the musical I wrote/composed about a devilcat called Hellfinger. And I certainly won’t mention the first three books I wrote since they were absolutely and utterly mind-cringingly terrible.
Some things that I wrote couldn’t be published even if I so wished. Such as my first book which was about a school with supernatural creatures in it. I had based the idea on a comic strip from the Dandy called Eddie Potter at Strange Hill School and a similar one from Whizzer and Chips just called Strange Hill. Although my book was like a cross between Mervyn Peake and Enid Blyton with a dash of Hammer Horror and not at all a children’s book, it would still be seen nowadays as being too much like Harry Potter even if I thought of showing it to people afresh. At the last count, I have rewritten it (by glueing paper over parts and rewriting over the top) five times.
My second book, if you wish to know, was semi-autobiographical. It was about my ancestry and the Irish undertakers that comprised my mother’s family, the Fox/Fish side of my tangled family tree. It is anecdotal with my own memories added in to it. I liked the notion of being an unreliable narrator and I may have added in a few surreal twists to the book. I haven’t read it since I wrote it.
The third didn’t happen for a while. I would start with ideas such as the notion of an empty universe inhabited only by a young albino boy, or one about the Rapture where the Christians have to deal with the fact that only Jewish people were taken into Heaven bodily. Then I saw an orrery and certain ideas clicked into place. What if I took Lord of the Rings and the steampunk genre, mixed them together and created a solar system which was just a really massive orrery with people living on the planets of the device. I thought I was a genius for thinking that idea up. I checked online and didn’t see anything like my idea so I thought, ‘great’. And then years later, the comic anthology 2000AD published Brass Sun which was also steampunky and it had an orrery as a solar system. Damn. Damn. Damn. Luckily my own concept differs from Brass Sun in that it isn’t that similar but still… I should have tried to get mine out first even if just to make myself feel better. The longest book I have written and each time I go over it, it gets longer. The sixth book feeds back into this one is certain ways, so who knows what may arise.
The fourth was a detective novel set in Exeter around the time of the late 1950s and early 1960s. I had ideas of making a series of it if I made a decent job of it. I did make a decent job but I have a butterfly mind which never settles on one idea before flying off to land on another. The book was serious with no fantasy or supernatural aspects in it.
The fifth was a short book. A Susan Hill type of book. One of the things I most hate are insects. So I thought a book about supernatural insects would be a good idea. Yeah, I was so wrong about that. It isn’t bad but it unsettles me even though I know what is about to happen. The only thing I learnt from that book was never to write about insects ever again. Especially not ones that lay eggs in people’s imaginations. The ickiest thing I have ever read/written. Which is why I placed it under the floorboards.
The sixth is the one I haven’t finished yet. The albino boy of the third is in it as an amnesiac with manacles. I have a desert and a corn field and, yeah, that is it. I know where I want to go with it but at the moment I just am not motivated enough to lift a finger and write it.
This is why I love writing. Because your imagination is only limited by your intelligence. When people ask ‘where do you get your ideas from’, I say, ‘I make them up. With my mind”, which confuses people since they assume a more alchemical process than making it up as you go along.
I think writing is much like putting a clock together. You have all the clockwork cogs and springs and things but if you put them together in the wrong way, they don’t work. Sometimes it runs too fast, or too slow, or it simply explodes in your face. When the third happens, pick the cogs out of your face and try again. A book is like one of those Chinese puzzle boxes, it can only be solved in one way. By getting it right.
A book is not set in stone unless you set it in stone. Um. That is, a book can lead you to different destinations rather than the one you plan. The right way to write is to keep a hand on the rudder but not too tight a hold. Half the fun in writing is allowing the characters to take you where they will.
I have no idea why I wrote this. But I had fun doing so, so that is job done.
The only tip you need is this:
Simple as that.