Writing is a drug. You can become addicted to it; actually you completely need to be addicted to it to be any way successful at it. Commercially, or spiritually. Thing is, if you let distractions like your day job or your family (cold, I know) get in the way of you and the paper or screen, you unknowingly, gradually wean yourself off that drug. Until one day, you find you’ve kicked the habit.
And that’s not good.
It’s 7 weeks since I last wrote a line of fiction. Sounds like I’m confessing. And I am. To myself. Can’t call myself a writer if I’m not bloody well writing anything.
Yeah, yeah. All the books, all the legends, all those who know better, say you must write every day, whatever you do – but we all know that’s easier said than done. But, and this makes me think of that iconic coffee shop scene in Heat and Neil McCauley’s rule, that’s the discipline.
That means no matter how fried, stepped on, wrung out my brain or what’s left of it is, I need to put my arse in the seat and the pen to paper and write something. Anything. Which may not be much of a thing at all. But here we go. This is me drawing a line in the sand and chopping up a line of that drug called writing here on the kitchen table, ready to snort it right up into my dormant grey matter and see if I can’t get myself hooked again.
My life is shit.
I mean… Godzilla, all the Godzillas in fact, even the awful ones.
King Kong. The Kraken. Frankenstein, Dracula, The Mummy.
The Werewolf, The Wolfman, whichever one you prefer.
All these guys; now they were monsters.
Jesus, talk about the short, feces-encrusted end of the stick.
Allow me to set the scene, or at least a scene, if I may.
You’re driving along a winding country road in the small hours, in heavy rain, when your car breaks down.
Of course, it does. That’s how these things go. We all know that.
No other cars pass for ages, your phone has no signal, blah blah blah.
Against your better judgment, but right in line with what seemingly sane people do in these situations, you leave the warmth and safety of your car and decide to go looking for someone who can help. Or a phone. Or someone who can help by giving you a phone.
To keep dry, you leave the road and take to the cover of the trees.
You come across a path.
Hey, it might lead somewhere, right?
Oh, and it does.
It leads you right into the lair of a creature the likes of which you could never have imagined, not without the help of mushrooms.
Somewhere close, way too close behind them in the traffic, a horn honked.
“That wasn’t what I think it was, was it?” said Beth.
Kevin shifted in the driving seat. “Jesus. Couldn’t have been.”
Beth killed the radio.
Kevin checked his mirrors.
They chanced glances left and right, looking at the occupants of the vehicles around them. Their expressions were all fixed with the same disbelief, the same incredulity.
The same fear.
What’s caught my eyes, ears and attention this week? What’s made me think, want to write, and maybe made me want to do both differently?
Quotes? Sure. Wilde, Jobs, Einstein. All the usual suspects have made some lasting ones. But there are some good one-liners in this find on Pinterest. Especially The Riddler’s. Sharp.
Ever picked out the perfect colour to paint your kitchen, the perfect suit to wear to your brother’s wedding, the perfect couch to go in the corner of your living room, and been perfectly happy with them, only to realise some days, weeks or months later that you made a rash decision and they’re not so perfect after all?
The supervisor got into the elevator without a word, leaving Megan slack-jawed on the fifth-floor landing, the mop slowly sliding from her grasp.
Surrounded by glass walls, the eyes of all the self-obsessed ants sitting at their desks in the open plan office beyond were on her, crawling all over her like even smaller, hungrier insects, desperate to know what had been said. As if seeing her gorilla of a supervisor pointing his finger in her face for the last five minutes with his other hand on his considerable hips, as if he were her father scolding her, didn’t give them enough of an idea.
It was partly her own fault this had happened.
But mostly theirs.
Cold. Unbelievable cold. So cold it burns. I lift my head from what I first think is my pillow and find myself looking at the shape of my face in the snow. A perfect mold. Of a man I do not recognize. I prop myself up on my elbows and touch my face. It’s numb, feels like it’s buried beneath an inch-thick, freezing rubber mask. I push back and work up to my knees. Jesus Christ, I’m naked, every inch of my body shivering and caked in snow. Not the fluffy shit you romanticize about at Christmas. This stuff is crystallized, sharp, and cuts into me like thousands of microscopic shards of glass as I stretch.
Everything is white. I wait for color to arrive into my vision, like what I’m seeing is the first few seconds of switching on an old TV set, but it doesn’t come. I get to my feet, uneasy, like a newborn deer, and survey my surroundings. Nothing but flat land for miles in any direction. No horizon, no mountains, no buildings, no nothing. Just white. And scrub. Crappy grass, weeds and random I-have-no-idea-what-it-is vegetation wherever I look.
Whatever I write next, that’s what it’s going to be called. Regardless of whether there’s even a girl in the story. Or a human for that matter. Never minds trains, gifts or tattoos of mythical fire-breathing beasts. I have to imagine that at some stage in the publication process, a version of this exchange sometimes takes place:
I was about a quarter of the way into writing a new novel when I made a stomach-churning discovery.
With the second half of The Walking Dead Season 4 beheaded and Season 1 of The Strain with a stake through its chest, I desperately needed a new TV show to get my teeth (pun not entirely unintended) stuck into. Having nothing left in my To-Watch folder, I wandered off for a browse around the online shelves, where I came across a French TV series called The Returned.
That particular title (one couldn’t honestly say it was in any way unique) was one I had toyed around with for my book. Hmmm. What were the odds?