The pattern

I have tried, many times, to write a book. I begin with the idea that I don’t ever have plots for novels, and then an idea or a character trots along and I am filled with a compulsive moment of perfect understanding that this could be A Thing. Life is cancelled, friends ignored, everyone is told I have a headache. I write and write and write for three months.  Then I run out of puff. Having circumnavigated the main plot holes in ever decreasing circles, I succumb to gravity, fall into them, and give up with a sense of something that is mainly relief.

There are exceptions. I lie. There is an exception. There is one that was brought to term.  A whole Thing, the size of a book, a year’s editing done until its every sentence was no longer a personal embarrassment.  I sent it out into the world and the world laughed. Actually it didn’t. That would have been great, since the damn thing was a comedy. Rather, the world (or a series of agents who came to embody my understanding of the world) sent polite form letters of rejection. I put it away and resolved to give up.

I have only ever managed to give up writing for about six months, whatever that says. Something always comes along, with a little side dish of hope attached. A round of short stories. A round of half-hearted applications to contests and papers and agents. A round of indifferent form letters of apology.

And you look your little manuscript squarely in the eye and say: That’s because you’re shit, you know.

And since you know this to be true, you can then get on with the other part of your life that involves a career and making some money.

An idea wanders into view, the spark of a start of a notion, and you tell yourself very firmly: Bollocks to that. Been there, done that, bought the stamps and filed the rejection letters. There’s a reason for that, you know.  So don’t even think about it.

And then – and then. You read some modern fiction and find yourself becoming annoyed with the person who recommended it to you. It’s mediocre at best. The characters are people you’d only deal with if forced to share an office with them. You’d avoid them at lunchtime and eat your sandwich in the toilet instead. The dialogue appears to be a guest slot by George Lucas, but there are no compensating Ewoks. And the plot, where you can find it, is very, very boring.

You find yourself brightening up.

It got published, you think.

And if this unreadable bollocks got published, then my unreadable bollocks can get published.

And that’s how it starts all over again.

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