Author and Scriptwriter

'Among the most important writers of contemporary British horror.' -Ramsey Campbell

Monday, 15 March 2010


There really aren't enough hours in the day.

I've been wanting to get back to work on The Song Of The Sibyl for over a week now. Unfortunately, there's only limited time in days eaten up with the wretched day job to write. And I've had an interview to complete and rewrite, plus, now, the opening chapters of the next novel (provisionally entitled Hell's Ditch)

I work a shift that runs from 12 midday through to 8 at night, so I get home around 9 pm, often thoroughly vegged. My best writing time is in the mornings, so:

Up I get around 7.00 am. Scribble Morning Pages- something an American friend passed on to me, basically an automatic writing exercise in which you write continuously, keeping your hand moving till three pages of A4 are filled up.

7.30- ish, usually more like 7.45- I'm out the door for a half-hour brisk walk. It's got to be done as I've got a definite weight problem and am edging relentlessly towards the big Four Oh No. But this means when I get back around 8.15 I've got two and a half hours writing time before I need to run for the bus.

But it's not two and a half hours, is it? Breakfast and putting together a packed lunch take up another fifteen minutes... a shower and getting dressed can be relied on to swallow up another thirty minutes. An hour and a three-quarters are left. Minus a quarter-hour to check emails, Facebook etc.

So, an hour and a half a day to write in. Oh, there's still lunch breaks, of course, at work, but what I'm doing at the moment needs time spent on a computer, and I can't do that at work.

I might have to move the daily walk to my lunchtimes, I think.

Of course, I could still make the evenings more productive if I just moved my damn computer downstairs away from the internet connection. I'll have to.

It's going to take a good two months, minimum, to rework The Song Of The Sibyl into something I can send off. There's a publisher that I hope will like it, and I see other writers I know getting new deals, and the old gnawing fear returns- of being left behind, of going nowhere.

All I can do is what I've always done, what the writer always has to do. Bite the bullet, put my head down, and work my way through. As Doro Pesch once put it, it takes what it takes.

But, Jesus, sometimes it takes a lot.

On the plus side:

Tide Of Souls shows up on Dark Delicacies' Horror Bestseller List in the number 3 spot for paperback fiction, above some pretty big names in the genre. Woot! (But no squee; I promised.) Very proud of this; I never dared hope this little zombie novel would run as long or as far as it has.

So, the moral of this story is?

If you want to write, stay the hell away from the internet, for Chrissakes. Most writers are some kind of OCD to begin with, probably. Last thing you want is to give someone like that a toy like the internet when they're supposed to be working. And especially not if they've got to be their own taskmaster...

Right, that's it for now. Off to bed.


Cate Gardner said...

I'm considering abolishing sleep. :D And ack, the internet will be the ruin of me.

Simon said...

Not just me, then; that's always good to know. ;)

Maybe they could make every day 36 hours long instead of 24. There'd be a whole extra 12 hours writing time a day. Niiiiiice...

Anonymous said...

Dave Gorman summed up the peril when trying to crack on with his novel:
"Unfortunately, my computer is connected to the internet. And the internet contains everything in the entire world ever. I don't know about you, but I find everything in the entire world ever a bit of a distraction."

Mark West said...

An interesting take, Simon and something I've experienced too. I know what you mean perfectly with the "left behind" business and that's what's driving me forward now.

There are a lot of people, from our shared past, who were excellent writers who just disappeared and I find that scary.

Good luck with the schedule and the weight regime!