Wednesday, 23 October 2013

Pretentious, Moi?

Sorry I've been away for a while, been busy editing the latest novel.  But while I've been away, there’s been a worrying amount of pompous crap going on...

I have a problem and it is to do with writing.  After talking to several people over the past couple of weeks, I've discovered I’m lacking something.  I can write novels, I can write blog posts and articles, I can spell and do punctuation but there is one thing I can’t do, and that is talk bollocks.  You see, I've just done it now, I've got to the point in a rather blunt way and called a spade a spade.  There is a reason for this, I’m a busy person and I get bored easily.  I’m an unfashionably straightforward person and I have a habit of just getting on with things.

I had a thankfully brief conversation the other day with a person who asked me whether, during my writing, I used something called ‘Chekhov's Gun.’  To which I replied, ‘err no, I use my computer.’  I’m obviously a bit thick because at the time, I didn't know that it was a plot device that entailed making everything in the scene relevant and cutting out anything that was extraneous.  Oh, hang on, I've just used a big word!  Agh!  What next?  I’m going to start eating halloumi cheese, or growing my own basil?  What?  There’s some already in my fridge?  I need to have a word with myself.

The good people at Amazon also drew my attention to the new autobiography by one of my musical heroes, Morrissey of The Smiths.  But the funny thing about his autobiography, apart from the fact that it’s called Autobiography, is that it’s been published by Penguin Classics.  I don’t know where to start.  But if, when, if, I ever get a novel book thingy published by one of the big boys, oh hello, then I’m going to call it Story Where Stuff Happens because obviously that’s what’ll be.  Seemingly, Penguin Classics will immediately spot my genius and rather than publish novels that were written 150 years ago, they’ll want to do mine ‘cos they is clever, innit.  I’m sure that Morrissey is doing something terribly ingenious and profound by calling his autobiography Autobiography and using a publishing imprint that normally produces Austen or Dickens, but it’s lost on me because frankly, it just looks like the people at Penguin have put the wrong cover on it by accident.

You see, when it comes to writing, I just don’t do a great deal of navel gazing.  I don’t ponder about Chekhov's gun or sit in a café in Prague writing a book about writing a book that’s about something that might have happened in real life but is also fiction, like HHhH, another book that was recommended to me as being terribly clever.  I sit on my sofa, second hand I might add, and get on with it.  I get a story in my head and then I write it.  I can’t think of any other way of explaining what I do.  Write, edit, book – no metaphoric gun, no halloumi cheese or witty use of an inappropriate publisher, just a story where people have adventures in story-land
No bollocks, just a spade.

And the winner of my competition to win a copy of How to Write a Novel is Martin Burr, for saying that his novel will be called ‘Dough Boy Does Dallas.’  Well done Martin, your book will be making its way to you soon.


  1. Ah, but bullshit sells... for a while;
    "You can fool some of the people, some of the time."

  2. I don't know whether to be ashamed or slightly smug that I was talking about Chekov's gun to an 11 year old pupil the other day... In my defence, I erred on the side of "spade" and said, "You can't have her bike get a puncture unless she's going to try and escape on it later", which I think was enough of an explanation that readers feel disappointed if clues don't pay off.

    Also, I suspect you may be one of the lucky few who have absorbed and internalised good fiction techniques, and so use them by instinct, rather than because a writing expert told you to. Sometimes you just "know" that something works, without being able to explain it or give it a literary title.

    Interesting post, as usual. I can't wait to read your next novel!

  3. Excellent post. But I still like halloumi cheese. Just not talking bollox

  4. Shows what I knew, I, like a bunch of other losers on the internet, thought it was foreshadowing (See

  5. Thanks for the comments, now where's my spade ...