Why haven’t I written anything for weeks now? I could say ‘writers’ block’ but that’s just a convenient get-out, ultimately meaningless. I need to get beyond that, if I’m to understand whatever it is that’s depriving me of any creative spark. So what’s holding me back?
Suspect one: the publishing industry. My agent sent DOUGLAS BROWN, RUNNING DOWN to nine publishers’ editors last September and we’re still waiting for a reaction from eight of them. The one response – a rejection – was positive, and courteous. But until the others have delivered their verdicts I feel paralysed.
Suspect two: the field’s too wide. A historical novel? Set in the 1950’s perhaps? That dull, dull, dull decade which saw me enter teenager status? It deserves a kicking. The 1960’s can’t be understood without an appreciation of the emotional, cultural, sexual desert that preceded it. Or could I exploit my four years in BBC Radio in the late sixties, early seventies? Both these are open to comedy, which I suspect is my thing, however much I might try to present a serious face to the world. No, the world is absurd and comedy is how to deal with it.
Suspect three: the narrator. In DAR it was the omniscient author with a few drifts into free indirect style allowing Walter’s thoughts to be presented direct. DOUGLAS was first person throughout; 85% of the narrative coming from yer man himself with the remainder parcelled out to the five other narrators. I preferred this, but somehow it only seems to work for me in a contemporary setting. And I haven’t got one; only historical ideas bubble up.
Suspect four: plotting. I need a story, with an end-point, and a driver which will get me there. The route’s irrelevant, it’ll emerge, but without that endpoint… The ideas I have are all to do with territory, the fields in which the story is to be set, none with story itself. And until I locate story, I’m paralysed…