Posts Tagged ‘books’

Sometimes I have to stop and remind myself that, “Holy shit…I’ve written a book,” which sounds really cool until certain realisations come to light. I’m unbelievably proud of what I’ve done, but now I’m at the stage where I have a first draft, I keep wondering where I go from here.

“To the pub,” was obviously my immediate response. Then I realised that the sight of a semi-drunken man beaming a smile of accomplishment across his face as he edits his project in public sort of invites minor injuries.  After all, who was it who said “Write drunk, edit sober”? Was it you? If so, well done. Let me pat you on the beret.

Writers have these, don't they?

Writers have these, don’t they?

What’s weird is, it doesn’t feel quite like I’ve written a book. Like, someone is going to come along at some point and tell me I’m missing something. I think it’s because I have a lot of trouble writing long passages and scenes. I started off doing short horror stories (well, technically I started off writing poetry as a teenager, but we shan’t go into that because the words ‘poetry’ and ‘teenager’ do not inspire positive images), so maybe I just became used to writing succinctly. Writing a whole book is vastly different and it’s something I’ve tried over and over for nearly a decade now.

At 44,000 words, I’m plagued by this idea that Passing Phases (that’s the title…quick, everyone start trending it on Twitter) is not big enough to be classed as a full-blown novel. Don’t get me wrong, the mere fact I got this far fills me with such pride I sometimes wonder if I should join the circus as a one-man towel rack. Has anyone else ever felt like this? (Not the towel business…that’s my own fantasy) Have you ever, say, directed a short film and thought “Nah, this isn’t a film. Films aren’t done this way”?

I think it being a ghostwritten book as well sort of makes it seem different. Yeah, of course there are plenty of books out there written by anonymous authors, so why do I sometimes have to keep telling myself that Passing Phases (Seriously, get that shit trending) is – or at least, will be – a proper book type thing?

It’s been lying dormant on my hard drive since last August. I’ve only just started re-opening it to carry on with edits. Maybe I just want to skip forward to the point where it gets published and – secret incantations being effective – sells quite well.

But I am excited. The guy I wrote it for has even managed to generate a little bit of interest from one or two publishers. It seems like it’s slowly coming back into existence after sitting still next to folders suspiciously labelled ‘The not-boobs directory’…Again, I’m really pleased about the prospect of someone maybe considering the manuscript, but I also feel a bit of a fraud.

Why would you even need to wear a mask on the internet..?

Why would you even need to wear that..?

I read stories about writers churning away night after night on their manuscript. Then editing it several times, writing query letters and sending them off to potential agents and publishers. Apart from emailing a few agents, I haven’t done any of that. So I’m struck by this notion that I’m not doing it right. Maybe other writers will read this and turn their noses up at the page in disgust…which means they won’t be able to read this next bit where I tell them they probably smell bad and their mothers have questionable morals.

In conclusion you lovely, shiny people: I wrote a book, currently unpublished. I’m extremely happy with how it’s turned out, but this is all new to me so I don’t know how else to feel…

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Anyone who knows me is aware of the kind of sexual glee I get from all things literature and book-esque. But I have a wee confession to make: though I am a very passionate reader I have since come to realise that I am not as big a reader as I thought I was.

There is a difference. I am passionate about discourse materials and the stories they tell but my reading habits are a mite fickle. Where I’m lying I can look over at my bookshelf which currently houses somewhere between 150-160 books. There are also a few more dotted at various (perhaps strategic) points in my room.

Starting a new book, for me, is quite exciting. I go through that initial stage of “I am going to read you! I am going to read your dick right off your face!” (those things are related, right?) but for perhaps asinine reasons days swim by before I realise that I’ve only read a couple of chapters of said bizarrely-appendaged book. Said tome can lay dormant at the foot of my bed willing me to pry it open and carry on the story for a good stretch of time. Why am I just leaving it unopened after reading the beginning parts like some sort of tease?

Is the story boring? No! Is the writing trite or uninteresting? No way! Are the words too big or hard to understand? Niggah please! So what is it that’s causing this block whereby I enthusiastically begin the opening chapters before I almost forget about its existence for upwards of several weeks?

To me this isn’t the same as being a slow reader. I like to think I read at a decent pace; a pace that’s comfortable for me which is nice and balanced between taking in all the words steadily but making headway to keep the story going. So my problem isn’t that I struggle to read quick. It’s simply that I read in a sort of truncated fashion; I read in sporadic patterns with yawning gulfs of time between each sitting.

“I know I’m supposed to do something with this. But what?!”

And it causes me a certain amount of guilt. Largely because the world of literature is something I want to make part of my career. Not reading frequently enough while at the same time wanting to be a writer would be like not watching interviews with Chris Brown whilst having aspirations of becoming a frustrated husband. You just need to keep reminding yourself how others are doing it.

I blame technology. No, seriously I do. And this isn’t one of those wistful rants about nostalgia. Technology has done (and continues to do) amazing things and change our lives. Technology is what’s making my desire to be a writer more possible by the day. This very blog is just one example of that. Actually, scratch that! I blame technology and myself!

You see, such distractions like the Internet have given me (and millions of others) a sort of Brave New World style feeling of divorce from world and personal problems. Rent still not paid? Just a few more pictures of funny cats and I’ll be straight on it. Really? You’re already on the Internet…you could just, I don’t know, send the money to your landlord electronically. Seriously, it’ll take, like, five minutes. Those cats aren’t going anywhere.

So the technology may be there but I’m guilty of letting it enter my waking day (sometimes more) and consume all aspects of my home life. And now I inexplicably want to look at pictures of funny animals instead of reading. I have failed again!

What are your reading habits? Do you zoom through books like your eyes have a hidden agenda to make me look bad? Do tell!

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Perhaps a more apt title for this entry would be something along the lines of ‘Stare Incessantly At An Empty Word Document Scratching Your Balls And Mentally Breaking Down’.

I’ve reached another avenue in my yet-to-scale-the-mountains writing career in which I have once again become enthusiastic about engaging in a writing project. I tend not to refer to it as ‘starting a novel’ and prefer a much more Orwellian style of phrasing in which I tell people I am working on “something I am hoping to turn into a book”…so you’ll have to ignore this post’s title…

Between 2006 and now I have begun (and failed to complete) five novels. That’s about one every year. One of said stories was a beginning segment that I had to do for a university assignment. Something that I had pretty much planned out with every intention of continuing with long after I had graduated and drank away the memories of institutionalised academia.

Another one was part of the yearly online contest National Novel Writing Month (AKA ‘NaNoWriMo’ – I think the naming department are the same Hell beasts that branded Southern Comfort as ‘SoCo’…) in which entrants embark on a 30-day writing challenge to bash out 50,000+ words of a story they conjured up while waiting for Firefox to load.

Neither of these ever reached their ends. Though I did complete the 50,000 word challenge. The story wasn’t anywhere near finished but I had the foresight to print off the manuscript (That’s £12 at my local library I’ll never see again) and edit the whole thing by hand. Red pen and everything.

So far so good...

Again, this didn’t pan out. I have no ending in sight, the haphazard method by which I zoomed through the word count means that the syntax resembles how a blind gorilla would interpret a work of art using only snot. And the plot is so stream of conscious that entire paragraphs were formed before my brain could clock what language I was writing in. Ergo: the manuscript now lies dormant in a drawer under a heavy folder containing boring adult documents like bank statements, P45’s (a lot of them!) and that injunction that doesn’t deserve any more recognition here…

From my experience there seem to be several pitfalls when it comes to attempting a project of this magnitude. I have spoken to authors who have expressed feelings of soul-crushing loneliness, stacks of notes that litter desks like the aftermath of a despondent tree that ended its life by leaping into a wheat thresher. As well as the much hated ‘editing process’; a dreaded endeavour which would be the driving equivalent of making someone become a qualified mechanic before they could learn to drive.

I think my problem is that starting a new novel is much like taking on any fresh task. Everything feels so new and exciting. It’s a chance to set a goal in mind and to keep the brain active and the voices at bay until the wine kicks in. But I lose steam quite quickly. I think this is generally know in writing circles as ‘losing steam really fucking quick’. It’s like when I used to become enthusiastic about designing my own Quake levels. What inevitably happens is the game’s protagonist would wander around three meticulously designed rooms only to fall off the edge of the map into oblivion after something colourful fluttered by my window.

That’s what my attempts are, aren’t they? Evidence of a momentary spark of imagination interrupted by a hyperactive mind that grew up on television and Skittles. Someone should buy me blinkers.

But then there are the problems with the Internet. This is an age in which entire walls of text can appear like it was crafted with perfection the first time round because drafts are erased and edited without your carpet being covered in crumpled up paper. This entire entry has seen more than its fair share of the Backspace button, for example. And the less said about Internet porn the better. (I cannot believe I said that with a straight face!)

Which leads me round to my next point: why am I telling you all this on a free blog when these are words that could be used in the story I have been planning for nearly a year? There’s a war on you know!

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I love books! I fucking love the ever-loving shite out of them! I would do things to books that would cause most decent societies to frown upon me and never return my calls again. Alas, I do have restraint so I stick to the age old tradition of reading them. For now.

I am appalled at people who don’t read books. Even people who don’t at least read a newspaper or two, or even a magazine, surprise me. (gossip mags don’t count and are a bane on modern civilisation. Only terrorists read them…you’re not a terrorist are you??) What’s not to love about reading? And what better item to read than a motherfucking book? There are trillions of the bastards out there, each one suitable for every taste and niche. Even if it’s a book about a lonely little puddle of sick called Hitler that has a magic tax exemption form which feeds on babies and car exhausts there will still be someone out there who will read it and think “Christ I thoroughly enjoyed reading that from my hovel on the moon.”

Books are awesome! If a book was sex it would be that orgy scene in Stanley Kubrick’s Eyes Wide Shutin slow-motion!

Another thing that I love is libraries: book houses essentially. And libraries aren’t just places where hobos can go for a little cry and a come down. Oh no good sir. They are much more than that. They are places that you and I can attend, join (for free!), and then proceed to gorge ourselves on knowledge-a-plenty. They are buildings of great warmth and a welcome feeling, as well as a place to remain dry and escape the everyday chaos outside. In many respects libraries are the complete antithesis of bus shelters.

I think what got me onto this post was when I came across this site listing a variety of stunning libraries seen around the world. I mean, when you come across something like this:

 

More spines than a chiropractor’s wet dream…

How can it fail to bring even a slight degree of inspiration to the mind? I know I love listening to death metal, and I know I love violent computer games, and yes I’m even partial to the odd naked breast or three. But in a place such as a library I think “Fuck that noise! I’m staying here and running my eyes over page after page of printed word!” Then I’ll promptly high-five the nearest homeless person to me.

As magical as libraries are I can’t help but feel a slight pang of despondency when I compare our local establishment to some of the ones in the above link (the one pictured is the Real Gabinete Português de Leitura in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil). Ours pales in comparison the ones I’ve shown you. It’s modest in size and from my experience is perhaps lacking in the volume department – shelves on a library should not have massive empty gaps unless there was a serious plague of keen interest within the space of a quiet weekend.

Having said that our library (Shrewsbury, for stalker reference) does have this outside:

...an 8ft Charles Darwin. Suck it, bitches!

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Toilet Books

Posted: November 11, 2010 in Misc.
Tags: , , , , , , ,

Is there a certain etiquette that needs to be upheld when it comes to ‘toilet books’?

A toilet book – for those not in the toilet-know – is an easy to read piece of literature that gets stacked up in people’s bathrooms as reading material for those, shall we say, extended stays…

For example: in our bathroom we have F***MyLife (the book version of this site), Rich Fulcher’s (of The Mighty Boosh fame) Tiny Acts of Rebellion, a Mock The Week book, as well as a series of books on pointless and useless trivia.

All innocent, quick and easy reads for that early morning bowel jog.

This evening, however, I discovered a couple of full-length novels amongst the stack. Not to imply that this is somehow taking the whole affair that step too far, but this either says something about the kind of reading material that goes hand-in-hand with toilet breaks or it says something about how long people are spending in there. (Or we’re out of toilet paper or something…)

Metaphor.

I’m all for some quiet time; those precious moments when the bathroom door shuts and the blare of the TV, washing machine, gin-infused Aunty is temporarily cut off while you get down to some pants-less business. Maybe I just can’t imagine having an entire novel stashed next to toilet purely for that purpose. If it’s good I’ll take it in there while I carry on reading. If I enjoy it whilst I’m there I’ll take it out with me.

It should also be noted that I found a small cutting knife on the sink at the same time. Now I have this unnerving image of someone in the household cutting thin slices of cheese and laying them on top of crackers as they sift through a thrilling tome of discourse whilst butt-spread on the Porcelain Lord. (If I find an empty Jacob’s wrapper in the bin you’ll know I’m right)