Friday, May 15, 2020

Head, Brick Wall. Against Banging.

 I am not going to use the CV word/s here. This blog will be a CV free zone, one of the few zones left on the planet that remains free. I am not even going to comment on the way something of such severity for humanity is now a political football.

Anyhoos, as we say here… (It’s Glaswegian for anyway.)

I have been very busy during lock down, my PR person  has kept my nose  very firmly to the media  grindstone and I had my last radio interview on Tuesday… and .. now …I find myself in work on Thursday. Having a risk assessment re being as infection proof as possible. We have masks, visors, gloves, aprons, shields, there are only three of us, all socially distancing and being grown up. As soon as the visors came down, two of us picked up a broom and a mop and started fencing down the long hall.

 After 51 days, it was good to get some madness back.


The one thing I have been spending a lot of time at and not achieving is writing. That troublesome book I keep moaning about just will not work. No matter what I do it comes to a dead end and my fingers refuse to go any further, so I strip out this and tweak that but no.. It just ain’t happening.

Then, sitting at dusk watching the bats do their   flight display (the midgie slaughter/buffet) outside the house, and it struck me that I was doing exactly what I tell my creative writing class not to do. Don’t beat your head against a brick wall, if It’s not working, it’s not working for a reason.  I had followed that bit, and the next bit of advice to myself which was to unpick and go back to the bit where you thought it was easy. Did I go wrong from there? Well I have done that twice now, gone from about 60 000 words down to 30 000, then rewritten another 30 000 and then stripped them out again, then rewrote them.

                                             I tried to recreate this.

The only thing that has really improved is that now I can just about type with three fingers...

So what was wrong with this book?

Note the past tense as I have stripped out another 30 000 words and have the title and word count left.
Last summer, when we had crime festivals in other places than the front room in front of a screen, I was on a room 101 panel, talking about things we really didn’t like in crime fiction or in life in general.  One of things I wanted to put in ( really stupid frilly frothy fancy dancy bloody coffee that costs so much you can buy a book for the same price and no I don’t want bloody unicorns in it, I may have made reference to this in a previous blog)  was  books that you can’t film. The idea only works because you are reading it. If you were filming it, the reader would know immediately what the twist was.  So to my mind, the writer is playing a dastardly trick.

Reading 400 pages to find out that the murderer is the cat, the sofa or the keyboard, makes me feel cheated.   


So what was wrong with my book? Well as the panel at that event said I was talking rubbish and that these books were fine, I decided to try and write one, and I couldn’t do it. There was a constant avoidance of  any  gender reference of one character,  and I think a careful reader would have spotted it but it felt very  contrived, always using ‘they’, and the mother held her ‘child’ by the hand. Not her son or daughter.
The character, Ronnie, is very important and I wanted their (?) voice to appear in the book in first person. And I wanted that character to be referred to by everybody else in the book, without the reader knowing it was them they were referring to. The Ronnie was the Veronica they were looking for.  Which is all a big cheat in the end.


It wasn’t even the main part of the story, just a wee thing I was playing with as a writing exercise as everybody else finds it so easy. I didn’t and I’m not   going down that road again.

 Weirdly,  the decision, the striping out, the cessation of the PR madness and then going back to the day job ( one day a week at the mo) have all collided to give me a perfect storm of no time to write.  

Now that I am raring to do so.

Or was my decision forced because my subconscious saw it coming.

Result, this morning at 5. 30 the book was sitting at 74 000 words. Not very good words but they are roughly in the right order and there’s no jiggery pokery going on.

Complete first draft might be finished by Sunday.

Unless I have another good idea.
Photobomber supreme!

Caro Ramsay and Mathilda


  1. I wonder if it is the same wall as yours that we keep running into. Must be a Trump wall for it to be so long.

  2. Let me guess, Mathilda has three sets of appendages, cutie that she is.

    I've spent the last months writing a book that doesn't want to be written. I still don't know where it's headed and I'm almost at the end. It's a standalone and it my remain alone for a very long time. It must be something in the air...oh, sorry, didn't mean to make a CV reference. Stay safe...and writing.

  3. CV. CV. Hmmm... Cultural Virginity? Conquering Venusians? Competent Volunteer? Clockwise Vicegrips? No, no, wait... I'll get it, just give me a moment... Cukoo Vasals? Creepy Vascularity? Certifiably Vain? Creative Vapors? No, no, don't tell me. Ummmm...

  4. My Curriculum Vitae had prepared me to be constantly vigilant for corona vectors, even ones that take the form of canned vegetables.