I’ve not written much these past months, and yet quite a bit has happened to get excited about. Where to start? Well the first thing to say is that work has taken over, and so too have various personal bits and pieces. Quite a few friends and family have visited. I also realised that a big piece of writing I was undertaking was simply not working out. That was quite a shock, but it doesn’t feel interesting enough to pass my ‘give a f*ck’ test.
What I was failing to give a f*ck about was an overly complicated story. It was split into different styles of writing: oral history and a series of essays written by a petulant narrator about the history of a made up band and music scene. I can see where I went wrong: it was fun to make up bands from the mid-nineties, and have them slag each other off, lie and reveal their true intentions. I enjoyed inventing a bunch of skateboarders linked to the free party movement, and writing the narrator in a verbose Jonathan Meades style tone of voice. And then I realised, the tone of voice was a joke only I would find funny, the skateboarders had no real point, and the mainly analogue music world I was writing about had long disappeared and nobody misses it.
There was too much of me in it: I was a skateboarder, I’ve played in bands and the story was set where I grew up. I’d lost objectivity and I’d assumed that anyone reading my story would find what I had to say interesting. But really, who gives cares?
Maybe there is an idea in there, but I don’t think it’s mine for the moment. Whatever I write needs to be simple: it has to have a plot of person A meets B, C happens. Or at the very least start off as a simple idea. I know this is the best way of working. At the back end of 2012 I wrote a short story a month as a group challenge with some other writers. Some were mediocre, one was bad and a couple I was really pleased with. I also learnt a little about my writing. I have a tendency to turn to familiar topics because they interest me, but I’m best when I force myself away from familiar themes and really throw myself into the deep end with new situations and characters. I did that with one short story and it was the best thing I’ve ever written because I had to think about and write it carefully. So I’ve got to go back to that, to the unfamiliar, or at least frame what I find interesting in a different way. Mm, what a dull post. I’ll try better next time.