I've discovered this weekend - but really knew it all along - that writing a book is not simply a matter of turning up at the page. It's half the battle for sure, but when the words that come out of the end of your fingers don't match up to the vision you had in your head, this causes trouble. I'm certain that I'm not alone in this find either - and why did that word 'battle' slip so easily into this paragraph? Surely the writing thing should be a joy, not a war to be won by beating nobody but yourself up. Yesterday, this is exactly what happened. I sat down to push forward with The Family Of Noise and wrote an easy chapter that, by the time I had finished, simply didn't belong. I put it to one side and decided it could perhaps be something in its own right. This is not the first time this has happened but it is the first time I've actually set something aside to do something constructive with. Would it be bad to admit that if, in the past, something didn't fit it found itself in the trash with no hope of a return to the real world? I guess it's not worth thinking about because the trash has been emptied. If writers pull stories from a big pool in the sky - as I believe they do - then it's only fair that if you're not going to do anything with the fish you caught, you should throw it back for somebody else to pick up and make a meal out of.
It won't be a very long story but the story is there to be told and I'm claiming it as my own. This fish is coming home with me and this fish is called Scarecrow. My gut reaction is to work with somebody to illustrate it. It's not a children's story but it's not an adult story either. It's just a story and maybe people that like stories will like it. I even know who I want to illustrate it so I had best get it into some kind of shape to send it to him and see if he wants to work with me.
Meanwhile, after that unexpected fish had been caught, I returned to what I was supposed to be doing and really did finish what I intended to in the first place - and it was much better than I expected it to be even though it took me down a road I wasn't expecting. This has made for a day of figuring out where to go next with it but... so far, so good. I like it this way. If I have no idea what's going on, the reader has not a hope in hell.
I'm massively aware that there's a lot of talk from me at the moment about finishing things off and anybody reading must imagine there to be something like ten projects all waiting to be wrapped up and you wouldn't be wrong. I've tried working on only one project at a time but it doesn't work for me. I much prefer this concept of working on several canvases at a time and seeing how things turn out. So while the actual work might take some time to reach its destination, at least we had a good trip, saw some cool things out of the window along the way and met some great people. It's the difference between launching the Maps app on your phone, following the voice and the route that everybody else will be taking, getting where you're supposed to be going quickly and efficiently or getting in the car with a vague idea of where you're going but being as nobody is really expecting you at the other end, why not take a look around and be inspired along the way. Those inspirations lead to other adventures and so it goes on...
There's a part of me that says this is wrong, but I spend my life working to deadlines (fast and sharp deadlines too) with the magazine, so I'm not going to beat myself up about it.
On my travels of putting the science fiction book together - note to self: remember to put a page up for it as it goes on sale next week - I found many incredible sights that don't really come under any heading at all. One of them was the work of Henry Justice Ford. I had never heard of him before but he was one serious motherfkr when it came to making shit up and is most famed for his work on Andrew Lang's Fairy Books. Here's some of his work - why there isn't more jaw-droppingly incredible work like this out in the world today is beyond me: