August 2016

My intention is to post this blog around once a month. However, I’ve been thinking about stuff (I blame university for that) and there’s something I need to get out there. So the next time will be September and I’ll just count the last blog as a practice. Here’s August’s.

I guess August means ┬ámany things to many people: eminent and well thought of; school holidays; swelling conkers (not a euphemism); drinks in the garden as night slowly falls. For me, it conjures only one thought – Cropredy. Or to be more accurate and to give it its official title, Fairport’s Cropredy Convention. A long weekend of friends, family, good music and excessive drinking.


This is not your average, run-of-the-mill festival. This is probably the friendliest festival on the planet. We took the kids there when they were two and four and it was possible to let them have a run around. There is, in fact, a kids area at the top of the field where tons of them are learning circus tricks and doing craft stuff. This year is shaping up nicely. Our party now numbers somewhere in the region of twenty and is growing all the time. Highlights for me this year will be Ralph McTell, Hayseed Dixie (they have to be seen to be believed) Bootleg Beatles and Madness. Plus, of course, various combinations of the Fairport boys.

I digress. This is meant to be a writing blog.

To put a few things straight: If you’re looking for advice on how to write, you might as well get out of here right now. That won’t be happening. If you want sensible advice on the craft then join a writing group or do a course. If you want to read a how-to book then don’t go any further than Stephen King’s ‘On Writing’. You need to know nothing else. It’s excellent.

No, this is almost entirely for my own benefit and your (hopefully) amusement. I plan to post my own problems and difficulties in the vain hope that some wise person out there might point me in the right direction, come up with a solution or just tell me to shut up and get a proper job. (That won’t be happening either) I’ll chuck random stuff in as well because, as I said, it’s meant to be entertaining, too.

So, having admitted that I’ve suffered a complete car crash with my last novel, I’ll try to explain the problem I’m (already) having with the new one. It is, as yet, untitled but is about a homeless guy, Mark.

Mark is in a bad way. He’s hit an all-time low. He’s decided that enough is enough. But things don’t work out the way he planned them (do they ever?) and he finds himself standing outside Sheffield train station looking at the patch of ground where he’s sat and begged with a black woolly beanie for a long, long time. He knows he will never be doing that again and turns his back on his soggy copy of the Metro and makes his way up into the city.


The thing is, I like the story but it is all a bit down. You know? A bit depressing and I’ve written three chapters where, despite his efforts to make changes, life still smacks him in the face. The problem is: this is a miserable state that Mark is in and humour (which is what I know it needs) is just ever so slightly inappropriate at the moment. So, the question is: How long can I maintain the darkness of his situation, at the very beginning of the novel, without losing the reader? Presently, I have about 7k words in this vein which I think is too much. Two long chapters or, as I have it now, three shorter ones. And if the answer is that it is already too long, will breaking his narrative and going elsewhere, somewhere a bit more colourful and cheerful, destroy the effect I’m aiming at, that being, getting the reader’s head into the sheer hopelessness of having no home and no support mechanism?




That’s my problem.

But, for now, I’m going to buy beer. We’re off to Cropredy tomorrow.