Fiction: The Intersection

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Fiction: The Intersection

She stood on a bar stool and yelled the name, “Larry!”

When everyone turned, she rolled her eyes and yelled again, in perfect British English “I’m looking for a man named Larry, or Lawrence.”

I looked around, no-one waved or put their hand up. Slowly, I raised my own arm. She looked at me and frowned, then climbed down. She plucked two whiskies from the counter and stalked over to my table.

“You don’t look like a Larry.” Her mouth twisted.

“Well, that’s because I’m not. I’m Alex.” I held out a hand, but she didn’t take it. “Sorry, I was just worried you might fall.”

She sighed. She turned as if she was about to leave, but then her head snapped back to me.

“Wait. What did you say your name was?”

“Alex.”

She grinned. “Holy shit. I found one of you.”

She slid into the booth and handed me a whisky. I suddenly felt like I’d made a terrible decision.

“So, Alex, how’s life going?”

She was tipsy, but not drunk. She had the air of someone who didn’t often walk up to strangers and start a conversation, but hard spirits were bolstering her confidence.

“Uh. Fine. I guess.”

She fixed me with a steely glare. The blue of her eyes was practically translucent.

“I don’t believe you.” She smirked.

I tilted my head to one side. “What makes you say that?”

“It’s Friday night and you’re sat in the gloomiest part of a bar by yourself.”

“Maybe I like to be alone?”

“Oh, you do. But not normally in public. Hence you calling me over.”

I clicked my tongue. “And I guess your life is just fantastic?”

“It’s alright. Not brilliant. I’m on a quest.”

“A quest?”

“Yeah. I’m looking for someone.”

“This Larry?”

She nodded and took a sip of her whisky.

“Who’s this guy to you?”

“Oh, uh, no-one yet. But I’m hoping the love of my life.”

I snorted. “You’re joking right?”

She frowned again. “No. No. Unfortunately not. I’ve never met him. Never spoken to him. But I know he exists. I think he’s American. This seemed as good a place as anywhere to start searching.”

I looked at her. I sure did know how to pick ‘em. She was crazy as all shit, but then I’d got past worse.

“So, what have you done that’s ruined everything?” she asked.

My heart skipped a beat. “Excuse me?”

“Well, I mean. The Alex I know is prone to doing…shall we say, stupid things? Things that have a habit of making his life a complete disaster.”

I took a swig of my own whisky and hissed. “I don’t know you, lady.”

“Oh, yeah, sorry. Lily.” She offered me her hand. I shook it.

“I’m still not telling you anything.”

She grinned. “But there is something to tell! Interesting.”

I grunted. “So, why New York?”

She shrugged. “I’ve always wanted to come here. Figured two birds, one bar stool. Plus, I wrote this thing the one time where Larry was a professor at some university, so I thought I’d check out a few of the big ones in town.”

I raised an eyebrow. “You know you sound completely mental, right?”

“Oh, yeah. Definitely. But I kind of gave up pretending to be sane when I left the UK.”

I laughed. “That sounds like and interesting way to live.”

“So far it’s paid off.” She knocked back the rest of her drink. “Look, I’m moving on tomorrow; I’ve rented a car and I’m headed to DC. You should come with me.”

“What?” I chuckled. “Lily, that’s nice and all, but we’ve only just met.”

“And?”

“And, apart from the fact that either one of us could turn out to be a serial killer, I have a life.”

“That you don’t enjoy, and that you’ve recently fucked up so badly, you’re inevitably going to turn up at my apartment tomorrow with a bag.” She pulled a pen and card from her pocket. “This is my number, this is my current address. If you’re late, give us a ring.”

She dropped the card down next to my glass. As she got up, she clicked her back and suddenly she held herself with a completely different posture. It was almost as if she’d been possessed by another person entirely.

“I’m not coming with you.” I stated.

“Sure thing, see you tomorrow at 11, okay?” Then she winked at me, and began to walk away.

“Good luck on your quest, Lily!” I called.

I sat there, sipping the rest of my whisky. My heart was pounding and I had no idea why.

 

I didn’t go the next morning. And I didn’t ring her.

 

The day after, I packed a bag and headed to Virginia.

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How to Run a Writing Club

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How to Run a Writing Club

Last night my friends and I celebrated the 1 year anniversary of the Writeryjig Clubamabob, our little writing group. I baked a birthday cake, Jo baked brownies and we all sang Happy Birthday to the club. I think we’re all a little surprised, but very proud that we’ve made it to the year mark.

So, as a little extra commemoration, I thought I would put together a how to guide, for anyone thinking about setting up their own group. If you’re an aspiring writer, I highly recommend joining, or creating your own group, because WE ALL NEED SUPPORT. No novel is written alone.

Step 1: Getting the Idea

The idea to start our writing group was born one afternoon in a Costa. I had just announced I was starting a masters, a couple of my friends were in the middle of theirs, and Jo turned to me and said, “This is making me think I want to do a masters. But I don’t. I just want the consistent feedback that we used to get in seminars.” (Or something to that effect.)

I suggested that she join a writing group, but I think we both quickly put that idea to bed. There’s a certain level of trust required for sharing first draft fiction, and the idea of reading stuff out in front of strangers (as many writing groups require) put us both on edge.

“Well, I guess we’ll have to start our own then?”

“Yup.”

Step 2: Setting Up Shop

Jo and I talked a bit about how we would want to run a writing group. As feedback for all was key, we decided to base the structure largely on how our seminars were run at university. Later, when we introduced the idea to a few others, we decided we would need to stay small, with work circulated at least a week before the session so that everyone had chance to read and make notes about the work submitted. We also decided to set a word limit of 5000 for each submission, so that it would  be a manageable amount to read.

Step 3: Social Media

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The long standing, randomly selected header image for the WC. I wish I knew who made this.

In order to make life easier, I decided to set up a private Facebook group where we could vote for and discuss meeting dates and exchange work. Having the group also meant I could invite everyone to the events with minimal difficulty, and we could bug each other with writing jokes when we felt like it too.

This was also the point at which a name was needed. Writeryjig Clubamabob was a name that I made up as a place holder…but it very much stuck. However, when it came to singing Happy Birthday last night, we called it “Club” to save ourselves the tongue twister.

Step 4: Recruitment

When it came to finding club members, we didn’t have far to go. We started with a few friends from uni, Jo and I, Megan, Rachel and Tori. Some of us had done English with Creative Writing, some of us English. Some of us had been writing fiction most of our lives, some of us had never really tried before. It was a good mix. On top of that, we extended a few invites to folks we knew outside of our group. Ian, my physicist/metallurgist friend and former flatmate, joined the group when I sarcastically said to him over dinner, “So if you ever decide to write a novel, feel free to join.”

Little did I know…he already had many, many….many words written.

Later, James joined our group, after what I imagine was a much politer invitation from Megan. And thus, we have our current group of seven.

Step 5: Location, Location, Location

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The Floozie in the Jacuzzi

Finding a suitable place for the group to take place was a little tricky. A lot of us work and some needed to catch trains at set times to get home, so we were looking for somewhere that we could all get to by 6ish.

Fortunately, in Birmingham, there are a few coffee shops that stay open quite late. Although we did end up changing venues because Starbucks started messing around with the closing hours and we ended up having to finish one club session next to the Floozie in the Jacuzzi in Victoria Square. Wasn’t the best.

If you can run club sessions in your house, or some other quiet location, I would recommend it. But if not coffee shops are a great option.

Step 6: Reassess and Rota

As I mentioned, we intended to keep the club small so that we could give everyone regular feedback. However, at 7 members, we were already running into problems. Mainly, getting through everyone’s work before people had to leave or waiting staff came to boot us out.

After playing around with word counts, and trying to tighten up the running order, we eventually decided to set up a rota, with 4 slots per session. This meant we could keep the semi-freeform feedback and larger word counts, but still stay within the time constraints.

Step 7: Dinner time!

After every session, we usually head somewhere for food and hang out for a while. This is mainly because you can’t really eat much in a coffee shop, so when we finish at around 8:30/9:00 pm we’re all starving.

It gives us a chance to chill and unwind. Sharing your work can be stressful, and things occasionally get a bit heated, so I think it’s good to have some time after where we can talk about life and remember that we’re arguing out of love 😉

Step 8: Celebrate Achievements

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The Crown of Publication feat. Jo and Rachel trying to lean out of view, while Tori attempts to mask them with her jumper.

Finally, I think it’s really important to celebrate achievements, which is why I’m really psyched about the wonderful “Crown of Publication” that Jo brought to the meeting last night. The crown is to be worn in our author photos when we finally get published. It’s a fantastic idea, and I can’t wait to say I’m worthy of the honour 😀

But, of course, we also needed to celebrate having successfully run the writing group for a whole year. In that time:

  • Megan has reached the 10k mark of her first draft, and introduced FEMALES into what I think we all hope will turn out to be a fluffy gay romance, but probs not given the terminal illness and everything.
  • Jo has set a personal best at staying motivated and working on a single novel idea for and extended period of time. And she made Tori cry in the process.
  • Rachel has given us 4 drafts of her novel opening, each one better than the last, and has solved the problem of having too many balls. I should say it’s a historical romance novel.
  • Ian has learnt that paragraphs shouldn’t be 1000 words long, and has blown us away with many badass women.
  • James has proved himself and excellent re-drafter and kept us in suspense over murder. GIVE US MURDER.
  • Tori has introduced us to a character with more snark that one could possibly dream of, and another that we all just want to roll into a duvet burrito and protect from the world. Oh, and she’s grammared us all, hard.
  • As for me? I’ve provoked multiple arguments over whether my novel is one about romance or abuse, and have officially surpassed the word count for the last novel I tried to write by 10k.

So, I guess, this blog is not just to commemorate the group reaching its first birthday, but also to celebrate all of our achievements this year. We did the things guys. Well done to all of us. Here’s to the year to come.

 

P.S. To the lady who came up, rubbed me on the shoulder and wished me Happy Birthday after we all sang. You made my night, even if it wasn’t my birthday. Bless you! And I’m sorry if I couldn’t keep a straight face.

Get the Idea: Then vs Now

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Get the Idea: Then vs Now

I’ve been thinking recently about how I came up with the concept for The End of Atlas vs how I used to come up with the ideas for previous novel projects.

Before Atlas my usual technique was to build a world around a character, which I think started

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Lawrence III from Pokemon 2000

 when I was 8. Pokemon 2000 had just come out on VHS and I became obsessed with the villain (then nameless, now Lawrence III or Jirarudan). I built a whole world up around him and whenever I was bored or getting ready for bed, I would tell myself a little chunk of his story.

As I got older, I got really good at pulling character ideas out of nothing, from Lily the eccentric coffee shop owner, to Carson a devious criminal psychologist. I would build my story by saying, what if this happened? What would they do? Who would they go to? What are they like? And so the world would branch out around them.

But at some point during university, something else got added to the idea making mix.

Moving Day, EM Harding

Franco the Giraffe from Opportunity Cost

First year, I did the same thing I’d always done. The characters came first, then the plot. At the beginning of second year, I created a Douglas-Adams-esque version of the previously mentioned Carson (Clarence) and put a lot of research into how you would go about stealing a giraffe.

Then, as the year went on, I hit something of an emotion crisis, and found myself thinking:

“For the love of God, I wish people would just do what I want them too!”

Shortly followed by:

“That would be a terrible idea, Emma. Don’t wish that.”

That moment was when Olivia, the female protagonist of Atlas and the original narrator, came to life. Whereas my previous characters had come from “it would be cool if this person existed”, Olivia came out of a necessity to express and idea.

I started with a very short story about a girl rescuing a guy from a mugging using her

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My bed in 2013. Struggle was real.

mysterious ability to influence others. Through a thick, morose monologue, the girl revealed that the guy used to be her best friend, until she fell in love with him and he fell for someone else. Not wanting to be around him, she’d erased his memory and spent her life grumpily avoiding him.

As I said, I was having something of an emotion crisis, but let’s not read into it.

I loved the concept and I liked Olivia, but I struggled a great deal with her voice. It had a monotonous “I hate everything” ring to it and I knew I was never going to be able to sustain that kind of narration for a whole novel.

Still, I knew this was the idea I wanted to use for my dissertation. By the beginning of third year, I’d drafted the opening multiple times. Many drafts were from Olivia’s perspective, but one version was voiced by Alec (male protag and current narrator). Of

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Section from Alec’s perspective. Good luck reading my handwriting.

course, in that version he was a police officer investigating a vigilante…who was his wife…who he couldn’t remember despite the wedding ring he always wore. We’ll call that an alternate universe and move on.

The important thing about that Alec draft was that I realised Alec was so much easier to write. Without having the burden of ridiculous power to worry about, he can express a wider range of emotion, internally and externally. So I went back through my older (less absurd) drafts and rewrote a couple of scenes from his perspective. Bingo.

Over the years my ideas have gone from, “oh, man this would be cool” and a few questions to drive the plot, to very much emotion driven. The characters, plot and themes of  The End of Atlas all come from a frustration that hit me hard in 2013, and

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Trying to work out how old minor characters need to be.

writing this novel has been a continuous reminder that no matter how tough things get, there’s a way through.  We’ve had our ups and downs, me and Atlas, but my interest in experimenting with it’s core concepts has been enough to bring me back from the verge of quitting multiple times.

For those of you who want to write something longer and who struggle to keep yourself interested (as I do), I strongly recommend finding something that drives you emotionally; something that makes the impulse to pick up a pen (or tap on a keyboard) so strong that even when you’ve fallen out with your fictional characters, and you’re crocodile wrestling with how to make your plot work, you still feel some comfort in sitting down and getting what’s in your brain, out in words.

After all, is it really a good idea if you can’t bring yourself to follow through?

 

 

Featured Image taken by a friend in Amsterdam (2013).

 

 

The Graham Greene Affair: Week 2

The Grahame Green Affair
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The Graham Greene Affair: Week 2

The Graham Greene Affair continues to work well for me. Despite feeling like I have a head full of cotton wool, I’m somehow managing to keep pace, and am actually finding it more and more difficult to stop at 500 words. Last night I found myself awake at 1 am, Googling the name meaning of a new character, debating what superpower I would give them, and how it would affect the story if I did. Then I drifted off in a haze of, “I should definitely move that scene”, “Something else needs to go in between that and that”, “Maybe I should cut that in half and whack something in the middle.” Yes, this challenge is keeping me up at night, but honestly I’ve never been more pleased by a bout of insomnia. It’s the kind of sleeplessness you have as a kid the night before Christmas, or your birthday. It’s exciting.

Part of what has triggered this excitement is talking about Rimjhim in a pseudo-academic style again. I spent the better part of yesterday swapping notes with my friend Jo, who is joining me on this epic quest to finish a novel. I’ve got to say, I greatly appreciated the input, and it was good to hear that my writing was having the desired effect. As always, there were things that I loved that she didn’t, and there were things that I hated that she loved. In particular, there was a scene in which my protagonist, Alec, and his best friend sit down to catch-up. Personally it drives me crazy. I think it drags on, and I don’t like the way the Alec dithers over what to say. But Jo liked it, and thought it worked well. Obviously, I will probably still edit the scene to a point where I’m satisfied with it, but I don’t feel the need to hack half the scene away, as I was planning to do.

I would highly recommend finding a writing buddy if you’re thinking about trying this challenge, or even if you just want to get serious about your writing in general. While I’m a fairly solitary writer, I find that having a second set of eyes for redrafting is crucial, and it never hurts to have a sounding board to bounce ideas off. Yesterday, 90% of the questions we asked each other were about plot. Mine were mostly about the age of the characters, and whether I needed to age them up or down to fix the storyline. Jo’s were about character arcs, personality changes and possible relationships. I think we both came out of there with a better idea of where we were going.

Of course the best thing about having a writing buddy, is that, unlike your other friends (or family members), who are likely to tell you that your writing is amazing and they love it and that they can’t wait to read more, your writing buddy will know when to get a bit ruthless. They know the importance of brutal honesty, and what to look for. Jo pointed out that in one scene I had given Alec a phone with a battery life of over a month, and I had crammed about three major plot developments into another. The first was a mistake that I had completely missed, the second, a reoccurring issue (I get over excited sometimes, okay?) that I have picked up on in some places but not in others.

Discussing work like this can be difficult at first – believe me, if you’d asked me 4 years ago if I wanted someone to thoroughly critique my writing, I would have told you where to go – but the fact is, a novel is never just yours, not if you actually want it read. At some point you are going to receive negative criticism, and the sooner you learn to separate the constructive from the pure opinion, the better. You learn to take what’s useful, and disregard the rest, and so you improve. Honestly, I don’t know where I’d be without you, Jo!

Love,

Mort.

P.S. If anyone else would like to join us, you are still more than welcome. I’m sure I will be editing and discussing long after I’ve finished my first draft, so seriously, come on, my friend! Let’s do this!

Dear Future Me:

Dear Me
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Dear Future Me:

(Age 27)

I have an apology to make. Today, I opened your mail. I found a letter that 17-year-old me wrote to you, and well, I couldn’t help myself. I hope you can forgive me. Well, I know you can. Anyway, to make it up to you, I figured I’d write you another letter, from me, 22-year-old you. These pronouns are gonna get dear me, dear future mehella confusing, so I’m gonna stick to I unless I’m talking to you.

Unsurprisingly, I am in Startbucks, drinking a decaf venti iced mocha, with whip. Surprisingly, I haven’t spilled it yet. Oh, tell a lie. I forgot I managed to squirt some on the page earlier, when I was mucking about with the straw. I guess we never do learn to be graceful, unless you have something you want to tell me?

Life at the moment is just getting interesting. I’ve taken up a new motto, “I’ll make it work”, and things are going well. It looks like I’ll have a full time job soon, and I’m currently negotiating some freelance work too. After months of fretting, two at once, just like dear me, dear future mebuses. Things are looking promising. And of course, I’m writing again. For a week now I’ve managed to scribble out 500 words a day, and it feels amazing. I’m finally doing what I’ve always wanted to do. I wonder did you ever get Rimjhim published? Are you working on the next novel? Or even a third? Given that writing has been a craving of ours for 15 years now, I highly doubt it’s gone from your life altogether.

At present, I have just got back in touch with an old friend. I decided that it is impossible to be angry at a person who no longer exists. The conversation has only just started, but I’m excited about the possibility of having them back in our life. If it all goes to crap though, if  you end up having to walk awaydear me, dear future me again, know that you did the right thing. There are only so many chances you can give a person, but my fingers are crossed that it will all work out.

Love, love, what can I say about love? I’m talking to people, I’m mingling. I’m finally out of that weird teenage mindset where “will you go out with me?” means “we’re a couple now.” I still believe I can tell where a relationship’s going to go in the first five minutes of a conversation, but that’s because I’m a cynic. And I recon that’s okay.

Everything’s okay; my lack of grace, rogueish female charm, and immense knowledge of giraffe sex. It’s all okay. In the five years dear me, dear future mebetween 17 and 22, I’ve somehow figured out the tricky concept of being myself. As it turns out, it had nothing to do with my head or my heart. It was all about my gut, and my guts. I’ve started living bravely and instinctively, and it has done me more good than any of our other body parts ever did. It lead me to a great uni, the right course, and the best friends.

And now, I guess this is the point in the letter where I write some requests, or some hopes. I know that reading 17-year-old me’s letter made me smile, and gave me a shove, so:

  • I hope that if you’re stuck in a rough patch, this letter will give you a boot in the arse.
  • I hope you’re not mucking about; not writing a novel because it’s too hard, or too scary, or too much of a commitment.
  • I hope you managed to do a Masters and a PhD, because Dr Mort is a life goal, champ.
  • Don’t you dare settle for someone just for the sake of companionship.
  • Remember your mood is like the weather; storm clouds will always dry up eventually.
  • Don’t give up fiddling about with cameras. This is something we’ve only just started tinkering with, but it’s a lot of fun so far, and it’s getting you excited about the cosplay community again.
  • In general, live passionately. You are much happier when you’re busy, and the bigger the variety of things you are doing, the better.
  • Find a job that let’s you be you.
  • Stop comparing yourself to others; just because they look like they have everything figured out, doesn’t mean they do.
  • Travel to at least one country every year, or I’ll be miffed.

Now I’m going to go home to the flatmate and his missus, curl up under the coffee table, and do some writing. I break dear me, dear future me16,000 words this evening. It’s taken a long time, but it’ll get there. After all, something has to come out of losing your comb inside the printer, twice. (Has that count gone up yet?) Oh, there’s one more thing actually. An add on to something 17-year-old us said:

  • Remember, happily ever afters do exist. BUT they require work, and love, and commitment. Make yours a life worth reading about.

There, now, do you want a pretzel on the way home?

Best,

Mort.

The Graham Greene Affair: Week 1

The Grahame Green Affair
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The Graham Greene Affair: Week 1

I am genuinely surprised by how well this is going. Even last night, when my face was on fire after an unpleasant trip to the dentist, I managed to crack out 500 words. I’ve discovered that 500 words really isn’t much for me, and I’ve actually overshot it a few times. I can usually crack it out in and hour or an hour and a half, and that’s when I’m mucking about on thinkbabynames.com, and researching penalties for Class A drugs. So what are the Pros and Cons I’ve found at the end of Week 1?

Pros

1. Making consistent progress – At the begining of this week, my novel was 11,000 words. It had taken me almost a year to write 5000 words. Rimjhim is now over 15000 words and counting. It feels so good to be making progress again.

2. Getting enthusiastic – By stopping in the middle of a scene, I cause myself to keep thinking about what comes next. I learn new things about my characters, and find myself acting out bits and pieces in my head, as I used to. I was so worried this story had gone stale, feeling that spark of enthusiasm again was a big relief.

3. Get’s you thinking – In order to knock out 500 words, you need to have some idea of where you’d like to go when you sit down to write. For me this is particularly difficult because I’m working on four time frames congruently, switching back and forth between time frames. While I was thinking out what I was going to write next, I realised that each of these time frames needs to tell it’s own story that lead to the same resolution. This solved so many pacing problems, you wouldn’t believe.

4. Dat regular writing pattern though – Writing frequently, will tell you a boat load about how you work best. And this is exactly what I needed. I’ve learnt that I work best with the deadline of  sleep looming over me. But my friend, who is joining me on this epic journey fits her 500 words in whenever, and wherever she can.

Cons

1. It’s time consuming – Of course it was always going to be, but I forgot to factor in editing time. I am one of those writers that likes to pick things apart as I’m going along, so while writing doesn’t take that long, I have already deleted 400 words.

2. Self-awareness overload – Earlier this week, I became hyper aware of how much dialogue I write, to the point where I was actually adding in unnecessary description. It took a long look through The Adventure of Charles Augustus Milverton (my favourite Sherlock Holmes story) to remind myself that when you have two characters with good chemistry, all you have to do is set up the scene, and then roll with it.

All in all, it’s been an interesting first week, and I’m impressed with my stamina. Writing everyday has caused some issues, but it’s reignited my love for Rimjhim. I’ve become one of those over-eager parents, desperate to see how my baby’s going to work out. Fingers crossed, I’ll be this happy next week.

Ciao,

Mort.

The Graham Greene Affair: A 140 Day Challenge

The Grahame Green Affair
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The Graham Greene Affair: A 140 Day Challenge.

In the summer of 2013, (oh god, it’s 2 years ago, I’m so old) I began working on my dissertation; a 6000 word novel opening, accompanied by a 4000 word essay. I dubbed my novel Rimjhim, a title which I still have trouble spelling, but that I ultimately love more everyday. It is the Hindi word for the sound that rain makes, and acts as the perfect image to open this particular story. Alec, the story’s narrator, has had his memory erased and rewritten so many times, that it is hard for him to tell fact from fiction. Rimjhim is his memoir, his attempt to reassemble the fragments of his life. It was a story that I was passionate about, that I loved, right up until I started trying to finish the damn thing. Suddenly, I find myself looking for any excuse not to sit down and write.

So I’ve come up with a plan.

In The End of the Affair (1951) – my favourite book and a HUGE influence – Graham Greene describes his own writing method:

Over twenty years I have probably averaged five hundred words a day for five days a week. I can produce a novel in a year, and that allows time for revision and the correction of the typescript. I have always been very methodical, and when my quota of work is done I break off, even in the middle of a scene.

He was meticulous and disciplined; traits that, as a writer, I would love to train into myself. In fact, one of my New Year’s Resolutions for 2015 is to get into a regular writing pattern. So, over the next 140 days, I will be setting aside time each day to write 500 words. They may not be as pristine Greene’s, who wrote “without crossing out anything” (Michael Korda, 1996), but they’ll be something.

140 days of 500 words makes 70,000; the average length of a first novel. The aim of The Grahame Greene Affair is to have a complete novel by March 2016. That’s 6 months to write, and 6 months to edit. And I invite you to come along for the ride. If you’re up for the challenge, I’m more than happy to beta read, and discuss ideas. Just drop me a line!

Yes, it’s certainly going to be an interesting few months, but damn it! I will get to the end of this affair!!! (Oh whoops, I made a punny. That bodes well.)

Best,

Mort.