One of the problems of being a writer, apart from the frown and that the last thing you wrote being a shopping list, is the fear you’re only as good as the last thing you wrote. Although parsley, butter and cheese might be significant at the time, they offer poor legacy were the Southbank Show to popup, intending to document what you’re currently working on. Of course the Southbank Show was taken off air in the Middle Ages so the likelihood of their interest in my shopping list is unlikely, but it’s important to be prepared all the same. After all I’ve had a ten pence piece in my pocket since I got the Scout’s Nuclear Winter Survival badge. To be honest that’s as much as most writers are due to earn according to new research suggesting only 10% of writers now earn a living from their endeavours.
The thrill of being a writer is like being wired up to a drip delivering tight succinct lines that will change the world (or at the least your novel), the only problem being that you are also the administrator and the drug manufacturer. That means for every laser-guided metaphor there’s also asparagus and toilet roll. And refusing to write shopping lists won’t help, that simply results in wandering around the supermarket like an overwhelmed time-traveller. You’ve probably seen people looking baffled in the cereal aisle; they’re writers with their mind firmly on the last thing they wrote as opposed to what they should have; was it oaty cereal, or cereal oats? But there’s something else.
Tesco have recently announced that they’re scrapping sell-by dates on fruit and veg because people don’t understand them. What are these people doing in the supermarket and how did they even get there? Please don’t tell me by car. People incapable of comprehending food sell-by-dates should NOT be allowed in supermarkets, much less the road. In fact anyone’s who’s intellect is challenged by dates on, well, dates, should be stopped at the door by DVLA and stripped of their licence before they reach their car. Unless they’re writers of course. It’s exactly this sort of thing, along with royalties cheques, that carves those frowns upon writers’ faces. If people can’t read sell-by-dates on fruit then what hope is there for your carefully arranged words being read in comprehensible order?
Of course there are some readers out there and it’s lucky writers don’t know where they live, because they are what makes it all worthwhile. I will forever remember a reader at the Curious Arts Festival last year where I was signing copies of the Life Assistance Agency. A charming woman, well I would say that, asked me if there really was an abandoned police station in Marble Arch. ‘Yes, there is,’ I replied, stunned that someone I had never met before had actually read my book, and clearly enjoyed it. She said there should be a sequel, and I agreed on the spot, before writing the idea on my hand to remind me. And it’s those readers who make writers momentarily content with those lines they wrote, that they might live on in some way. And it gives confidence in being able to write a shopping list without compromising their artistic integrity, besides it’s worth it to not get lost in the cereal aisle.
The first Life Assistance Agency novel of an ill-planned trilogy was selected by WHSmith Fresh Talent 2017 – is available here – http://myBook.to/lifeassistance and (spoiler) features Marble Arch.
and here –
and on ebook here –