Never trust a question whose subtext is one that says, ‘Hey, I hope it has been a thorough fuck up for you’. I’ve been asked about my new work ethic several times, I have to admit that many have been kind inquiries, some just fascinated whether they can replicate and a very small minority that seem to be going into battle yelling, ‘No mercy! No mercy! No mercy!’
Last Kingdom references aside (see the BBC adaptation and the original Bernard Cornwell books – think Sharpe but with Vikings and much more sex). There have been some who have vented spleen at me, one poet – no names, for that would be shameful and advertising their wares – told me it was not my right to treat writing like a nine to five job, if I did, and they added, ‘Assuming you do it well’, then everyone will be doing it. I have no time for that argument, I have no truck with it, to be a writer you dance with cut price Devil at the crossroads for peanuts and a bad back, I accept that. I accept that I am an oddity, that when I am thinking I move my lips, if I was in any other profession I’d be locked in a room on my own….oh, hang on. Bother. Back to the new work ethic, is it working? Yes, is everything flowing from my keyboard pure gold, genius, to coin that poet who bitched again, is it true inspiration? Not always, I am working under the idea of a leap of faith. I hate the term ‘inspiration’ it makes us all look like quasi-prophets in the wasteland or a supermarket, the twitchy type that the security guards follow around. I have ideas, I have loads of ideas, I have notebooks full of ideas, I have ideas coming out of my kazoo (see, listen to the way I can blow it, didn’t you hear?) but not one moment of ‘inspiration’ has given me something full formed without sweating over it first. B follows A etc etc. I work. Work. Work. Work. And then if I have any energy, I work some more and then I make the wonderful leap of faith and have something new. Calling it ‘inspiration’ suggests that writers do nothing but mutter by the reduced food aisle. Calling it work suggests that we are doing something beyond staring at our navel. Don’t get is confused with naval, that is an altogether different form of staring.