Chips off the old writer’s block

THE WRITER’S LIFE

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(Image: Ukfrozenfoods.com)

It would appear that next week’s break with my children may be a bit of a busman’s holiday: Based on the emails I’ve had from both of them, we’re going to be doing quite a lot of writing. I’ve checked, double-checked and checked again; made sure that they’re not just humouring me: No; For whatever reason, they want to write some stories.

I suppose if you’re nine or 11 years old and you’ve got a dad who’s a writer, it could be quite cool to write some stories with him. For my part, I’m proud; of my children, but what father isn’t? I’ve been told that I should be proud of myself: Something I’ve not been for quite some time, since I let everyone down. As with so many other things, I wish I’d not had an alcoholic breakdown but the life which has come about since is better than any period in my life before, even when I had money.

My daughter has drawn all of the pictures I need for the children’s book I (WE!) are publishing, so we’ll be putting that together over the course of next week. My son is using three of my short stories for a website he’s building and I dare say I’ll be helping with that as well. What’s most exciting though is the new book: Cyrus Song. Both kids love the two short stories which started that off and both are keen to be a part of the ongoing process. I suppose when your dad is a writer and he can imagine talking animals, that’s pretty cool too.

Of course, we’ll be going out to various places with my parents but the main thing the kids want to do is help with my new book. I’ve got a pretty vivid imagination (It helps in my job) but to have their input will make this new project even more magical than it is already. I suppose it doesn’t get much better when you’re their age than having a dad who’s a writer and who can bring characters of their imagining to life, as they sit with me and watch that process. For the sake of everyone, I’ll set appropriate times for me and my co-authors to work together.

It really is the case that my kids are proud of me, despite everything. I already knew that my parents have a sense of pride in what I’ve become and next week, we’ll all be in the same place, where the elders can see the youngsters writing with me. What a wonderful life. It’s just a shame it took such a long time to realise.

So, a week off? From writing? Difficult though it may have been to drag myself from something I enjoy so much, my kids are more important. If they want to watch, learn and provide input, who am I to argue? The writing life never stops and it’s even better when there are people along to enjoy the ride.

So far in the Cyrus Song book, there have only been a small cast of animal characters, as I try to concentrate on the ongoing plot and narrative. By the end of next week, I expect to have a large menagerie. I can see how it’ll go already: The kids make it all up during the evening and I turn it into magic later, for them to read the next day. I’ll post updates as the schedule permits but I really don’t think I’m going to get much free time: How fucking splendid!

Almost as splendid as all of that is a little program I’ve installed on this very typewriter (a Windows 10 laptop): It’s the best retro geek thing a writer could wish for; Called “Qwertick”, it makes my keyboard sound like a typewriter: My life is complete. And the typewriter will travel with me next week.

I never qualified in my last diary entry, quite why it’s comforting to remind myself that I’m a writer: It’s for when I’m out of my comfort zone. Away from home. I get anxious and paranoid, so being able to reassure myself that I’m a writer is a coping mechanism. Next week, when I’m out and about with the kids, I have two little reasons to be proud. I shouldn’t need my coping mechanism.

But if anyone asks my kids what their dad does, I know that they’re quite proud to tell people that he’s a writer.

A random page, ripped from my chest

THE WRITER’S LIFE

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(Source: TVTropes)

Sometimes, something’s too long for a social media post but not long enough for a story. Just occasionally, it can’t be contained. That’s where having a blog comes in handy. Sometimes, I just want to get something off of my chest: If it’s burning a hole in my heart, it’s better out there. So, from my thought diary; and my heart…

There are many things which confuse me in life: I’ve sort of begun to work out what life itself might be all about but I struggle with the details. Forgetting for a moment my constant struggle with rabbits (They always look like they’re about to say something), there are many other things which occupy my mind, like why does my face get wet when I see or hear something beautiful, and why is the O2 network so shit?

I’ve lived at The Studio for almost five months now and no matter what day it is, or what the time of day might be, around here at least, the network connection just makes things up as it goes along. There’s apparently a mast near here somewhere, which engineers are working on. Every single day, when I have a connection, it’s being worked on. No matter how many times I’ve walked around this little village, on no occasion have I seen anything resembling an engineer working on a transmitter. I know that transmitters tend to be visually unobtrusive, but engineers? O2 either employ very small ones, or they’re using cloaking devices. That certainly seems to be the case with the network signal.

At best, the signal is intermittent but even when all of the on-screen and other signs indicate that there is a connection, there in fact isn’t. For this, I pay £25 a month on my PAYG phone: A situation dictated by being a former bankrupt with no credit score, meaning that I can have neither a contract phone or broadband account. I pay over the odds for less than most people and often get nothing. But I digress, in the hope that someone from my fucking mobile company might happen to read this. If they are: You’re a bunch of thieving, hostage-holding cunts.

That’s better.

And so to my face, which is prone to inclemency: This is something which has emerged since I sobered up. I get that alcohol deadens the emotions but it’s like all of mine were stored up for the whole time I was drinking and now they’re wreaking some sort of revenge.

I suppose an email from each of my children telling me how much they love some of my stories (the ones which are suitable for them to read) is going to do it, when I see them so little. I know that their mum would have been behind them somewhere with a proverbial cattle prod and the threat of food rationing but they’ve both said that they’d like to do some work with me during the time that we’re together next week at my parents’. I’m not kidding myself and I’m not being humoured: The littlest has sent me around a dozen illustrations for the children’s book I’ve had planned for a while now. The eldest is building a website for a school project and has asked my permission to feature three of my stories.

The littlest first: I wrote A girl, Frank Burnside and Haile Selassie about a year ago now and it won first prize in a “Life-changing” short story competition run by Writing Magazine. The editor suggested that it’s exactly the kind of approach which mainstream publishers are looking for in children’s literature when dealing with serious life events. I never approached a publisher because I didn’t want to be lumbered with an illustrator straight out of central casting. At one point it was going to be a photo book, using family photos from two of my closest friends.

But I had a vision and I really wanted to stick with that, just as I did the book title, which a mainstream publisher would probably ask me to change. Originally, the story was called The child who wished for nothing. Frank Burnside and Haile Selassie came about because those were the personifications of the dog and cat respectively in the story. I really wanted it to be illustrated by my daughter (aged nine). She’d told me before that she loved the story and tonight, she sent me some pictures. The email told me where the individual pictures are to appear in the story and they are reflective of the scenes which they are to be placed into. It all means that she’s not been put up to it, she genuinely likes the story and she wants to be a part of what her dad does.

The eldest is 11 and (as well as his sister), he’s taken a shine to the Cyrus stories (one on this blog; the other coming at the weekend): He’s asked for permission to use them on a website he’s building for a school project. He wrote a story of his own a few months back (which had merit) and he’s asked if we can complete it together when he’s staying with me next week. Then both kids have asked if we can do some writing while they’re down.

I have the proof and there is no thunder which anyone can steal: The fact is, my two children are interested in what their dad does, to the extent that they want to be involved. I’d almost go so far as to say that they might be proud.

No wonder my face is wet.

And all of that was apropos of nothing, other than an ability to write.