Friday, 24 September 2010
Yesterday I had the enormously wonderful privilege of speaking at Eltham College. This was not only because it is a very nice school to visit, but also because it happens to be where Mervyn Peake went to school.
That's him, second from the left in the back row of the 1928/1929 Rugby team. I was told he didn't make much of a player, well not compared to Eric Liddell who had recently passed through the school too, but that even then he was drawing drawing drawing all the time, even all over his English books.
I don't tend to lean towards hero worshipping generally, but yesterday I ignored that fact, and became the teenager I once was, obsessed by his writing: it reminded me how wonderfully strange Gormenghast was the first time I read it, and it reminded me why to be strange and unusual is a good thing in writing, much more fascinating than the mundane and the commonplace. Well, for my money anyway.
Thanks to my Dad for introducing me to Peake in the first place, and thanks to Stephanie Fearn of Eltham College for the invitation to visit the home of, yes, a hero.
Tuesday, 21 September 2010
That was at the front end of the summer I think, and back then, it was all going along really well. I'd done ten thousand words fairly speedily (and it's aways been my belief that fast writing is good writing, because it shows that it's all flowing properly) so I was quite content.
Then, this thing happened. Namely, I went off to Sweden for a month or so, in order to finish the book. In fact, two things happened. Firstly, I wrote not a single word of the book while I was away. Secondly, and of even greater concern to my and my editor's sanity, was that I didn't want to write any more of it either.
I'm not entirely sure why this was, but let's just say that I didn't feel it. Not really. So I threw away the ten thousand words. That will teach me to blog about word counts...
And hence the long silence about the book.
However, thanks to the gods of writing, another idea popped into my head one day as I cycled round the island I was living on, an idea so exciting and weird that I knew I wanted that to be my next book. And the idea was not only almost fully formed, I knew I could write it very quickly.
So after a few weeks home, I went back to the island, and started to write. 37 days later, I have it. Pretty much done.
To say I'm relieved is an understatement of the highest order, but I'm also excited. I know there will be LOTS to do in rewriting, since it's all happened so fast, but I'm excited about it, and that has to be the main thing.
And if I'm wrong about that, well, somebody show me the exit...
Friday, 3 September 2010
"I said last year that Marcus needs to show more ambition. The remark still stands."
Well, today, I wrote six thousand words of my new novel, yesterday I wrote a three thousand word early reader, tomorrow I'm flying to New York to finish writing a contracted screenplay with my brother, so reaching out across the years to 1986, I have only one (printable) thing to say to Howell Griffiths, and that is this....
Actually, that's unprintable too.
Sigh. There were somemore favourable comments to be found, way back at the end of Easter term, 1986, such as this from my lovely form tutor, Mr Burgoyne: "He seems to have a sound analytical mind." Note the use of the word 'seems' in there. Mr Burgoyne was the teacher I wanted to have for all subjects, not just History, but he's probably the reason there's so much historical stuff in my novels.
And not so many Maths-based plot lines: Some accurate comments from Mr Neeve: "Marcus is not a gifted Mathematician." Shame I was doing two Maths A-levels, then.
Still, my other Maths teacher had this to say "His written work, although not always neat, is well documented, and it is easy to follow his train of thought." As one would that of any simple creature of the forest, perhaps.
Why am I telling you this? Because I just found the offending article in a drawer while looking for my passport and it made me chuckle.
In an almost entirely good way.