Sunday, February 26, 2006


5 days to go until the novel is in. I've thought about it loads. I Still don't have a good first line though.

I have my notes in front of me. I've been here since 11:30, give or take trips to the fridge (Diet Coke #3 on the go right now).

I haven't actualy started writing. I've written yet more notes though. And also, standing in the kitchen earlier I had a revelation that has altered the story, or changed it back to an earlier idea that I had discarded.

I can't seem to ve in. I've even written a plan for Chapter One (that's what's gotta be in by Friday) I know what I need to do to get from A to B (B being where I want to be at the end of the chapter, what I want the readers to know by that stage) but I can't write.

Weirdly writing this blog entry has helped with my flow ... so far from being a procrastinatary sidetrack that I'd first imagined, it has actually helped a bit.

Off I go back to the novel.

Sunday, February 19, 2006

12 days to go

12 days to go. Think that last post was written in a bit of a hurry. It's not that I can't write, I have to write all the time and have written several creative things for publication and many for performance.

It's just this big sprawly big fat novel thing it's so daunting. My dissertation at university was around 100,000 words, it's doable. Admittedly that was a textual analysis of UK radio phone-ins and whether or not they are a democratic forum.

Screw all that for a bit though. I just had some oats. Aren't oats fantastic? Raw oats with a drop of milk and a sprinkling of fake sugar (Nothing Comes Closer To Sugar - Silver Spoon, the best sugar substitute out there). Got about 1 stone to lose To get down to my ideal weight now. Everyone says I don't need to lose it but they're wrong. Wrong idiots. Don't worry this is not a food disorder emerging.

Where was I? Slouched a lot yesterday. Am now kidding self that I need to do nothing and just relax in order to cure current bout of insomnia that is waking me up at 3am and all the antisocialness that it then brings about when I'm knackered by 11am and absolutely must sleep by 5pm for a bit.

In the novel writing class this Monday we will all be commenting on the first chapter of 4 of the students. They sent them out by email on Friday. I've not yet red them. Am gonna pour over these shortly, once I've got a cup of tea.

Goldfish I think you're probably right with the two person perspective thing but I worry that this is the best way forward for my novel. If I submit chapter one and it's only from one person's perspective and doesn't give the basic idea (you'd need to read two chapters to understand the two main characters) ... it's not what I'd be wanting to put across. I realise chapter one isn't going to be anything like my final chapter one but, ya know, it's a pride thing. I know I can write well and want to display it a bit to best effect.

Third person would be the next best ... but ... I dunno.

I'm always a last minute person. I like to mull things over so that every last idea is thought through. So that the environment that I live in, the world, has the opportunity to drop in new things that could help me with the construction of my work. I do this with my columns on Ouch, used to do it with essays at university. Never understood those students who wrote their essay within a day of receiving instructions ... they would either hand it in straight away or sit on it and find themselves rewriting it. And This was in the days before students had lots of good access to computers and it was still ok to submit handwritten work. 1994 before you start making up how old I am. 1994 was also the year when we stopped using pit ponies in Britain ... bet you didn't know that? Just heard it on LBC.

Chapter one, then.

Needs to explain the background of the main character ... who, oddly enough, is a blind fella. Background isn't the right idea, more about motivation really ... to understand him well enough to then be able to write about him and have the reader understand why he might do or think things ... and also so that the reader starts to care about the character.

Why do I write this blog? To get my writing juices flowing. ON days when I don't write the blog I'll be writing something else, just to get things flowing. I had writers block last year and that wasn't good.

Apparently if you mix a bit of honey into some dry oats and, stick it in the oven and bake it for a short while ... they come out rather nice and crispy and delicious. I need to try this.

On another topics ...

Weirdly I've developed a bit of an intolerance to caffeine these past few weeks. But, to add to this, since Thursday I've noticed I've got a real problem with sugar too! I get a nasty head rush and headache shortly after consuming anything sugary. It happened on Thursday after eating a Kit Kat. I'd rather badly had only a muffin to eat all day and when I got home I had a 2 finger Kit Kat which sent me reeling. Same happened yesterday when I had a Kit Kat. Sugar is dreadful. If they invented it now it would be banned.

Friday, February 17, 2006

2 weeks to go

It's two weeks today that I need to hand in chapter one of my novel. 14 days. That includes 2 weekends, one of which is likely to be blitzed because I'm decorating and sorting out the house at the moment.

There will be a way through.

Trouble is I've not yet written a word. Not one. My previous joy (two posts ago) on how I've worked out the plot for my novel has now disintegrated, my confidence has dipped hugely in it. It sounds like a love story? Did I really want to write a love story? OK so it's a weird kind of love but I really don't want to have it turn into a piece of chick lit.

Let me say at this stage that there's nothing wrong with a good drop of chick lit, I read bits myself (Jane Green?). I read all sorts of things very deliberately. but I just hadn't envisaged myself writing something like that.

I guess there's no point angsting. Though the synopsis currently might read like a bit of a fractured romance, the actual piece shouldn't be quite so love oriented. It's about people. If I don't want it to be a romance, it won't turn into a romance, right?

I'm looking at this so entirely in the abstract at the moment. I have a synopsis, I have a plot line-through, I've planned out some elements of the plot in detail, I've worked out the peril and the actions and reactions ... so I'm being very structural right now. Next step: pen to paper, or fingers to keyboard.

Course, sitting here writing this blog entry I'm thinking: this desk is crap for writing at. I need a new desk. And also this keyboard is a bit worn, I need a new one. Can't possibly write anything until I've got a new desk and a new keyboard. Oh and possibly a new chair. FYI: I bought a new desk, new chair and new keyboard this time last year. I didn't like them pretty much as soon as I installed them; health and safety would go nuts. The desk is too high, means you hold yourself at a funny angle and - yes Gimpy - it means my elbow is almost constantly rubbing up against the edge of said desk causing that constant pressure that can bring on arthritis attacks. Gout if you like. Won't mention gout but it's now a writing issue. Fucking gout, who the hell else gets gout. It's a kidney problem, that's what causes it in case you aren't aware. Crap. Why do I have to suddenly get a kidney problem.

Anyhoo ... 2 weeks left. I need to start. Where do I start. How do I introduce the character? What's the style?

I'm thinking seriously about doing that fashionable thing of one chapter written from one perspective, and another written from another. But I really don't know. Do I do it third person? Third person restricted or third person omnipitant? I'm thinking maybe third person ... but perhaps two x first person. I am also trying to work out what other themes should be in there, what the characters like to do when they're not engaging with plot pursual as such. God I'm talking so abstract ... I don't even really think in these terms it's just I don't know how else to express it simply on this blog.

And the other question is ... why am I writing a blog entry when I could be writing the novel? Novel. Damon's novel. Feels odd saying that. Bit wanky. Why should Damon have a novel? Why does he deserve a novel attached to his name? Weird. Feels odd. Sad aspirationalism or something. Like I'll ever finish a novel and it'll be any good.

I still haven't learnt how to pace a plot / novel. Just any thoughts on that would be useful right now. Not necessarily direction, or instruction, more just hearing what people have got to say about it. Other peoples' experiences.

This keyboard is sticky and clunky and needs replacing. Anyone else get through keyboards as quickly as I do? Approx one every 9 months. I'm a touch typist, I use it a lot but don't hammer it.

Going. Way too early. My insomnia is making me wake at 3:30am this week. I'm sleeping again between 6pm and 7pm and then having a proper sleep at 10:30pm.

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

just 2 and a half weeks to write my novel!

First, need to say (very briefly) that about 2 hours after I posted that last post I had a gout/arthritis attack ... this time in my effing elbow for the first time ... rendering writing rather painful nay impossible for some days. Got to tell you it was extremely annoying because, as you can tell, I was rather bouyed up with ideas and wanted to start writing but physically couldn't. Bastard body of mine. Gonna move on though, can you believe I've actually received complaints from readers of this blog for boring everyone about gout? Who do I write this thing for anyway? Me primarily :) Am just coming to terms with it all hence my obsession I guess, it'll bed down as I begin to know and love the pain and swelling.

Anyhoo ... back to the novel stuff.

Schlepped to university Monday night for another class. Really enjoyed it. we had to do a free write, starting line was something like: "When he/she woke in the morning, the dinosaur was still there ..." and our task is to then write beyond that sentence. I twisted it round a bit and built into it some themes from a short story I've been kicking around my head ... something about future violence and disruption by quasi terrorists. Bit tech, bit low level sci fi. Not too much though because I prefer sci fi that is quite real, slightly in the future believable understandable stuff. They call sci fi something else these days, um, something like 'progressive' or 'pre-emptive' or 'postulative'. It's neither of these but I've forgotten ... suggests that it's about guessing the future though. That's cool. Not "welcome thee to the high flung constellation of zog." type stuff. Eeek. Used to like all sorts of sci fi, now I hate it like I hate Lord of the Rings fantasy stuff ... which I used to love too. I grew up? John Wyndham kicks ass in the sci fi area. He's the father of all that is right in sci fi.

I distracted myself with sf talk, sory, back on track now.

We then looked at perspective. We were asked to think up a situation and then write a few sentence about it. "I'm sitting in front of x and I hate him/her because ..." was the starting point.

WE then had to do it in the third person. Then we had to write it from the perspective of the other person, the one being hated. Then again from the perspective of someone who was trying to read a book but was being distracted by the two people above. About 4 other perspectives too.

I don't know if it sounds rubbish but when you do it, it's actually quite interesting and enriching. What it made me do is to think of the situation - I'd set it in a pub - from a real 360 degree perspective. I think, though, it was more an exercise in where the voice comes from, who can tel the story best, how it fits together, etc.

Other stuff Doing my house up at the moment. decorating, carpeting, new furniture. It has been a bit of a dreary state for quite a long time. I need to either sell it next year or sort out a way of paying back my ex-girlfriend so that I can stay here.

Oh and ... a complete ban on smoking!!!! How flipping fantastic is that? Does that start summer 2006 or 2007? I haven't caught upp with the dates yet cos I got in late from work last night.

Saturday, February 04, 2006

Yay! I've worked out how to write my novel.

Yay! Ladies and gentleman. I can now proudly announced I have worked out exactly what my novel is going to be about. I've written notes, timelines, synopsis, the whole thing.

I still need to develop the characters but I've worked out all the milestone important points, have weaved together some complexities, and I am very pleased.

"So Damon, after all these years of thinking about writing a novel and talking about it too ... is it your evening course that has spurred you on to do this?"

And the simple answer is 'yes'.

Kate, you were right. You have been telling me for years to do a course ... I was a huge cynic "don't care about other writers, dont' want to go on a course, don't want to share, I'm too cool and sorted"

But here I am. I've actually thrown together some fragments of ideas I've had for years and created a real story that could well work (um, yeah, got to write it yet. Realise this book is a reality still pending).

What drove me: It's about having your mind focused. It's about having to present something on Monday. it's about being able to talk about "my novel" because others on the class are doing that already.

Also, last week the course tutor gave us an essay about plot; plotting, fitting together of different elements important in a novel. I've studied it personally. As a group we studied it too.

The essay isolated 8 important things that must be in a novel. The tutor asked us to write a sentence next to each of these. Before you realise it, you've got a novel! Amazing. Amazing how just taking that structure - that admittedly looked a bit abstract and silly to begin with - really makes total sense ... and by fitting my ideas into that structure ... well bugger me if a novel hasn't appeared. Well, the bones of one.

Sorry, a very self indulgent post on my blog today. Probably a bit abstract. Wonder if anyone knows what I'm going on about.

What drove me II: In 8 weeks time I've got to have chapter one of my novel ready. Not entirely sure what chapter one is going to contain yet though ... Ive sussed out the character basics (the background, effectively) and I've sussed out the 'impulse' (that's how the ball gets rolling with the story, the bit where the plot starts proper) but chapter one has to set things up a bit, introduce characters. Hmmm. How to do that and remain interesting too. A conundrum, a bridge to cross, a bit of a challenge. I love writing challenges though ... and anyone out there who I've sub-edited will know how my mind works in terms of narratives, getting from A to B and helping the reader along (and probably in terms of Damon shouting or sending emails to get his writers to clarify their thoughts and 'line throughs' and to bare their souls a bit more [sorry Julia]). But shorter pieces are different again. I feel a bit adrift at creating a 200,000 word narrative ... 1,000 words are much easier to deal with, you can see the beginning and the end and keep track of that middle bit quite easily ... but when the middle bit is 180,000 words then you've got an entirely different narrative paradigm / situation going on.

Indulge me this morning, won't you. Especially as I probably won't wax lyrical about this kind of stuff again. Not at length.

OK, so anyone out there who's further down the line in a novel or has written anything before ... please feel free to chip in with thoughts or advice right now.

Thursday, February 02, 2006


Could it be that I am wrecked?

Could it be that I spent the whole evening down a particular pub in Holborn> Could it be that this pub is called the Shakespeare's Head and that I hilariously call it 'Tom's Head'?

So, yeah, went down the pub with Paul from I think we chatted about accessibility of websites, how to make our first million, the issues surrounding getting a podcast onto the BBC, girls, relationships, families, Christmas and much more.

Polish sounding barmaid tried to crack on to Paul at one stage but she didn't come back afterwards. "I may be smiling but I'm not happy" she said in a post structural nod towards the concept of barmaidishness. Confused Paul a bit I think. Shame really, if she'd been a little less unhappy, well, I'd have shagged her. If only she knew, eh? (deep irony or bad truth? You decide)

Took the tube home. Girls on late night tube rides always seem really sexy. There's a moral here I'm sure. Dropped off at the kebab shop at the top of road. Bought kebab, came home. Starting eating kebab ... kebab smelt wrong. Smelt of offal. Ate a bit more then consigned offally bad kebab to my kitchen bin. It stank.
So, here I am, blogging into the early hours with clearly way too much alcohol in my system. Parents are ariving around 9am to help decorate my flat. Hurrah for parents! I have started my rehydration program already. Seriously, this can't go on. I don't even like alcohol any more.

Hey, alcohol abuse over and done with I have a bit of good news.

Two weeks ago my rheumatologist at the hospital read out some blood test results and suggested I had a liver problem. I was gutted. Don't want to add to my existing organ issues. He suggested I'd need to seek help elsewhere if I had a liver problem. He sent me to have more blood tests because previous liver tests said I was 93 way above the average of 45. No idea what this means.

Today I heard that the new set of blood tests delivered good results. I no longer have a liver problem and likely never had one in the first place. I'm on lots of drugs though and wouldn't have been surprised had my liver joined my kidney and heart and eyes as the next organ to fuck up.

La dee da. Happy happy. Pleased I've still got a liver. And I hope you share the beautiful irony that I went out to celebrate with alcohol.

Will tell you about Monday's writing class tomorrow or the day after. that's IF I can be arsed, IF.

Lady B: thank you for offer of souping. I'm keen on any healthy recipes anyone might have. Interesting new snacks/meals. I will share my ideas too.

Oh, did I say I'm going to Amsterdam in a few weeks?