A Year of Writing: Days 351-360

We’re on the final homestretch, you can see it unfold day by day at my Facebook page.

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Day 351 of #ayearofwriting and my scribbling over the last few days has started to hone down to a single idea. There is something about the outsider that appeals to me. I consider myself to be an outsider, looking in, this is not by choice but I have never felt comfortable in forced situations of social etiquette. Basically, though I am a man, I don’t really understand why they do what they do and for what reason. I put this down to growing up in a matriarchal family with a Dad who pointed out to me that he was a loner, that basically I was probably going to be loner but like him I had the ability to make people laugh, smile and get along. I have very few close friends, those I do, I class as family. I think writers tend to be outsiders. I mean who tells their parents when they grow up they want to sit in a room on their own, making shit up? It sounds like they want to be a Politician. From a young age I loved to read, and write, I was programmed to observe, I can still remember how the bricks of my first school felt as I crouched against them. What it was like when another child tried to suffocate me in nursery (in a Wendy House. Freud would have a ball with that). I can recall images from long in my past, the sounds, the smells, the colours. So I observe, I remember and I write. That is why I am drawn to the idea of the true outsider. John of Patmos is an interesting Biblical figure to me, so outside the norm that when the Romans tried to boil him in oil he was unscathed and then exiled. There he may or may not have written Revelations. Now, there is a true outsider book.

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Day 352 of #ayearofwriting and I start in on another climate change story. This time in the new flood plains of the east, the massive wetlands that stretch where once the coast was and now create tiny islands around what was Lincoln cathedral.

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Day 353 of #ayearofwriting and with just over ten days left before this project comes to an end I reflect on how I write, how I used to think I should write. In my twenties I considered writing the art of staying at my desk and hammering out a story, or at the time, a script for television or stage. It was bloody mindedness and much of what I put out had brief moments where I thought, ‘Yes, that’s it, that’s what I want to say’ but more often I met a brief, met a word count, met the desires of a producer or a director with the old adage, ‘I’ll see what I can do’. For in this industry you are led to believe that you can never say, ‘No’. Then after my accident in my late twenties I said that word. I was written off. A couple of years later I was in White City in London (the old home of the BBC) and bumped into a producer who I knew, they opened up with the line, ‘My God, I thought you were dead’. This probably sums up why writers never say, ‘No’. Yet, writers should say it. Now in my forties I am happy to say that word. I have been asked to write for TV since and simply refused, TV for me was a way to pay the bills and had nothing to do with what I wanted to write. TV and I came to an understanding that no matter what ideas I had, they would inevitably become something I didn’t want to write, as Kurt Vonnegut wrote, when you share an idea you end up making love to the world. You try to please everyone and writing is never about that. There is a book for everyone, so if you say you don’t read then really you’re saying that you haven’t found a book you want to read yet. If you say you don’t read and you mean it then frankly you’re a fucking moron who deserves everything you get because you want to evolve like an amoeba (look it up), in fact an amoeba has more desire to improve than you. Now, I write in a manner that is akin to building a tower backwards, with great big gaps in between but with flimsiest ladders getting you from place to place. As I go on with the story I fill in the gaps, knock down walls, put in place turrets and finials, smash them off, blow them up, place in cellars, dead ends, brick up windows, spill out balconies that collapse until what is left is a pinnacle of personal joy. I love my tower building, my way of piecing together, brick by brick, a story.

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Day 354 of #ayearofwriting and the new story is taking form, like a litany, like mass.

Day 355 of #adayofwriting and a plague of one newt is making my wife scream and my son laugh as I try to write. No newt was harmed in the capturing of it but my wife claims she was bitten, and moaned when I did not take a photo of it. The newt pictured is in its natural habitat and has nothing to do with Christmas.

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Day 356 of #ayearofwriting and slowly plugging away at the Lincoln drowning story.

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Day 357 of #ayearofwriting and on a busy day I still manage to do some writing and marvel at a little light reading #christmas #climatechange #clifi

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Day 358 of #ayearofwriting and I want to pay homage to my writing area. As a disabled writer the idea that I work at a desk is laughable, this is my work space. I have had the luxury this morning of getting time to be here and work on my story. Looking at how in the media the arguments for and against climate change has filtered down to the personal rant. There have been very few personal accounts of climate change and this is where my fiction comes into the debate. A mosaic novel of a myriad of voices, think Humphrey Jennings. Now, let’s get down to brass tacks, I don’t care if you believe or disbelieve, either way the time to do anything to preserve our race has passed. It is now a matter of adaptation, starvation and death. Each of my chapters starts with a number that increases, and as it is set in the future the first number is four billion, four hundred thirty two million, five hundred and four. For those of you who know your Tudor to Victorian history, these numbers were printed every week, call them death in print.

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Day 359 of #ayearofwriting and it is the obligatory selfie (yes, there are cuddly bears in the background forming a union). I am on my knees, on the floor, typing away and stretching out my spine as I write about the last man, in the last coracle in the marshlands around Lincoln Cathedral.

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Day 360 of #ayearofwriting and when writing about marshlands you have to do research. The odd things you don’t realise, that climate change will be good for generalist birds. This is a militant coup. It’s about birds that will thrive in the UK and birds that will be pushed to the fringes. Birds that once emigrated each year will no longer do so. We have already seen this with migrating birds taking longer and longer to leave our shores. Now writing lists of birds.

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