Dear Frog

*to spare the embarrassment of admitting that I have a French friend I shall protect his identity by not calling him Vincent, and instead calling him Le Frog.

On a recent visit to our new home, Le Frog asked me ‘Scott, why don’t you ever write anymore on your website?’  It was a question that stumped me.  It wasn’t as if I had made a conscious decision at any point to abandon this site to rot.  It was  more of a case that life had some how gotten in the way.

In the last twelve months I have moved country(again), gotten married(for the first time), wrote some material for a musician(a different one), finished another novel(not yet published), tried to find a grown up job(and failed) and procrastinated a whole bunch.  The only thing more impressive than my list of bona-fide accomplishments is my list of things I haven’t done in the last twelve months: climbed a mountain(any one), tamed a lion(a vegetarian one), changed my underpants(now you are concerned) and grown up.

The thing is, or if I was to phrase it in a more honest manner, the writer’s excuse is that writing typically is reactionary.  It is as natural as breathing and farting(not at the same time).  Usually it is provoked by a thought that won’t go away, like a buzzing in your brain.  In my case it’s a form of exorcism.  If I didn’t expunge the host of negative thoughts that reside in my brain I would be physically unable to utter any other words than ‘fuck’ and ‘bollocks’.

If I am honest, those negative thoughts haven’t stopped.  I find it incredulous that so many horrible things are going on in so many parts of the world and the vast majority of it is a misery generated by humans on humans, whilst from the sidelines the leaders that are sent to protect us just watch in awe as entire countries borders are redefined on the whim of a lunatic.  I am resigned to this wave of passive indifference that has washed over every single one of us.

The truth is that I have stopped writing because I have become every thing I detest in modern man.  I have become a passive observer to a fucking horrible freak show.  Writing no longer feels like an action.  Writing no longer matters.  As Le Frog himself likes to say, ‘Sacrebleu!’

*He doesn’t really.

**No French person does.

***C’est la vie.

10,000 Words

In 6 days of writing I have comfortably broken the 10,000 word barrier.  I can now say to myself that I am 20% finished.  It is a pretty awesome, awe-inspiring feeling as it makes be believe that writing a 50,000 word novel in a month is well within the reams of possibility.  The fact that NaNoWriMo gives you daily word targets gives you a greater sense of exactly where you are in regards to completing your novel which in turn helps you keep your feet on your ground, and keep you focused.

At the moment I feel this project is far removed, and so different from anything I have ever written in my life.  Whether it will end up as a failed experiment or something I can be proud of I don’t know.  It’s exciting to be working on something which is pushing me as a writer.  It is a million miles from my comfort zone.  I have banned myself from reading it, and I shall do my level best to resist the temptation until November is finished, this way I can be assured that there will be at least one person excited to read it.

In the last update I was talking about how unusual words can come up when you write and grab your attention.  The recent word which has fascinated me is ‘lambasted’.  When you read it with a southern english accent it sounds like it means ‘to break something with a young sheep’.

Coming Out The Closet

One of the weirdest aspects of trying to be a writer is the moment when a new acquaintance discovers your hidden, dirty secret.  The first thing they usually say is ‘wow, you’ve written a book.  What’s it about?’.  To which I reply ‘the death of a pet, a conspiracy and a period of social disruption.’.  Then there is a pause whilst they try to compute what exactly this means before replying something like ‘so does it have any vampires in it?’.

Perhaps I am mildly exaggerating, nevertheless the point is a valid one.  The moment you tell someone you have written something or you want to be a writer creates a moment of awkward reassessment despite the fact that many moons ago artistic aspirations were admired.  Nowadays it seems that people believe that if you want to write you are either mad or just bat-shit mental.

It is even worse when the thing you have created is not typical of now.  If your novel doesn’t contain wizards with their wands out, or gay vampires or women eating chocolate in their knickers or a lawyer in a race for justice or a policeman in a race for time or some other more acceptable 21st century template for success then you are even harder to understand.

Personally I find these moments extremely embarrassing and stumble through my answers certain of what the people I am speaking to are thinking.  The most amusing thing is that they try awfully hard to be pleasant and almost everyone ends up asking the same question.  “So are you going to try and publish it?”, to which I usually reply “No, I am going to eat it.”.  Bizarrely it never even raises a smile.

The urge to write isn’t dissimiliar to being as mad as a barking cat.  It’s a compulsion which sits inside the body and can flare up at any time.  It grows and shrinks during your lifetime.  I wrote the first draft of my novel, some 75,000 words in less than four months.  It is almost an addiction.  It is part of a person’s character.  If ever you find yourself in this situation, don’t be afraid of this person who is sharing part of their soul with you.  After all, most crazy people aren’t violent.  It’s only their thoughts which are.