So the novel has been sent south to take root in various slush piles (there are not many slush piles native to the north). Two have evicted it already and I imagine the remaining two are composing its marching orders as I write. But that’s fine, it’s no more or less than I expected and the mere fact that it is finished, edited and paired up with a synopsis and covering letter is something of which I am really rather proud. Frankly at this stage I am so relieved I got this far that I don’t quite know what I would do if an agent said “yes please”.
In the meantime I march on with book two. Or not. I have given up drinking, well clearly not all fluids, just the ones containing ethanol. Which in my case tended to come under the pseudonym of Merlot, Shiraz or on a good day Cotes du Rhone. It seemed like a good idea at the time and has certainly helped in the campaign to reduce the amount of water I displace in the bath. The school uniform crises are fewer and whilst the knitting output is only marginally increased the dropped stitches and need for frequent frogging have been almost eliminated. However, contrary to expectation, it has had markedly little effect on the amount of time I spend on book two.
Apparently Raymond Chandler believed that a writer should sit down and work every day for a set time. So far so good. He would sit for a minimum of four hours each day to write. If he didn’t write, if the muse had shoved off elsewhere, then he just sat. The rule was that he was not allowed to get up and do anything else, and certainly not anything useful or constructive, other than writing of course. Clearly Raymond Chandler was a man. It’s not his name that gives it away (Hilary Benn, Margaux Hemmingway … oops back to wine again) it’s the fact that he could sit for four hours and do nothing if he so chose. Clearly no games kit crying out to be sorted and boiled, no dogs sitting with their legs crossed, wearing their most pathetic faces, even the tax return takes on a slightly attractive hue when the alternative is to sit down and force the putative murderer to come up with at least a half decent motive that might keep the reader guessing until at least page ten.
My new found sobriety has not given me hours of extra time to sit and contemplate the empty screen. No, it has offered me a much wider window of opportunity for displacement activity. There is no cupboard, no outbuilding safe from decluttering; no paper that cannot be filed; no cushion unplumped; no dog unwalked.
So tonight I shall go to bed and ask for a miracle to come to me in my dreams. A motive please, size and colour immaterial, I’ll make it fit in those four hours I am going to have to sit and stare at the screen.