100 Days of Writing: Days 43-47

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Day #43 of #100daysofwriting though it feels like we have been painting the kitchen for a thousand days. Part of being a writer is often the misconception of what it is to be a writer. You meet non-writers, I want to call them muggles but JK Rowling would kick my ass on twitter and it would fall into a popular misconception that writers are some how magical, that we are touched by the muse. In fact we’re more like sponges on the sea floor. I meet many people who tell me they have a novel in them, when predominantly we all have more bowels than pages. I meet other people who tell me they have a good story I can have, as long as I pay them something, thus indicating another misconception that all writers are good listeners, some are but most of us don’t want to listen to strange sweaty person getting excited about what happened to them twenty years ago in a queue. Then there is the idea that we wait around for the muse, a lot of writing is reading and research, that we live in a garret and earthly things like bills and a mortgage do not touch us. This is often used as an excuse not to pay us. We are all different, and no none of us know where inspiration comes from, so stop fucking asking.

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Day 44 of #100daysofwriting and I haven’t had much chance to write today with the smell of varnish in the air as we move towards completing the kitchen. As of yesterday, not all writers live in garrets. The smell reminds me of how I became a reader. My Dad gave me all his Eagle and Lion annuals, I still have them, and was enthralled as a small boy of tales of daring do. I was particularly drawn to Dan Dare and the Mekons. They inspired me to tell my own stories of aliens and then spies, fights on speeding trains, fights outside out of control spaceships, battles on Mars – long before I discovered Burroughs and Bradbury – as a child my ideas on story where action and daring do, and I still get excited when a story comes to a head and the language reflects that. As a writer, I have a little of Dan Dare in me, as an editor, it’s Mekon all the way.

Day 45 of #100daysofwriting and I have written several sketches on what makes my character heretical. I have been looking at heresy down the ages, levellers, catholics, protestants, sects, diggers and some rather medieval ideas of heresy which makes blasphemy look like a picnic in the park. My heresy has to do with stars, there will come a time before myth when stars no longer can be seen that there will be deniers that the stars ever existed, that heresy will reign. It echoes my growing fears over climate change, Mausu is becoming those people who rage against Trump, while those who support him see that as heresy.

Day 46 of #100daysofwriting and I am sat here listening to Bowie’s Ashes to Ashes. I am struck by how I collect phrases, lines that are images that wait for the character to come. In terms of Mausu’s mother, I find her genesis in a notebook from eight years ago: ‘She was the kind of woman who prayed behind her own back’. There she is, fully formed in an image, she was just waiting for her story to show up.

As a writer I keep all my notebooks. I have them spanning back to the age of 16, from pocket guilt sized pads I hid from friends in my teen years to whopping thick need a bag to cart this around tombstones. Now and again I travel back through them, for it is a form of time travel, I sometimes laugh, sometimes marvel at where the ideas came from and acknowledge what is there is often badly executed. I then plunder and take the best with me to reform them into something new. That’s where I am at on Day 46 of #100daysofwriting.

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Day 47 of #100daysofwriting and my story’s heresy even involves parenting as we know it. In the future will how we parent be deemed heresy? I am thinking of Olaf Stapledon’s Last and First Men, there is a section within it that re-imagines the family unit as our life spans exceed a 1000 years. There is also a short story, I forget the author, in which a planet has been annexed for the heresy of incest. It throws out the idea that this is down to genetics, the idea that if you sleep with your family, sisters, brothers, cousins you could create some kind of idiot. I am not advocating this at all, for the record, The Bible is full of it, I was interested in why the author threw this rather contemporary idea out – I went off to look at biology and DNA, and the truth is our DNA can reach back down our blood lines, so producing an idiot would be very slim. We all come from the same source, there is no denying who you are married to is related to you in some way, they may be your cousin 40 generations removed but they are related to you. The idea of red necks/hillbillies being all interbred and idiots is idiotic in itself. The evidence may be truthful, but their reason for being stupid is environment and not the fact they’re each others mother, sister, uncle and brother. Though it makes shopping at Christmas much easier. The idea of what society norms are and how they are viewed at a later date fascinate me. So, there could come a time when all parenting is co-operative, reaching back to tribalism but what if you choose not to co-operate? The single parent, the husband, wife and child unit becomes heretical. It is like saying that the Hokusai wave is a wave, when what that wave was has been reinterpreted as something that is no longer water.

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