Ignore me. I’m sick.

What is this art form? This theatre of words moving across a page? The trade of building images out of symbols? Carving literary statues with grammatical chisels? Writing is so much and so little. A bad sentence is almost indistinguishable from a good one. It takes a person with a degree to know what is good and what is not. They will tell you Dan Brown paints his words with turds and shake their fists at the pages of The Bookseller magazine which dares to print sales figures that contradict their assessment.

The average reader has no idea. Nor do they care.

You can have a novel, 120,000 words long, and find nothing of meaning within its pages. Heroes running the same course as many before them. A save-the-cat journey of write-by-numbers plots designed to move and thrill. The same story sold bought and read again and again and again.

Another book. Which follows no particular pattern. Does not follow the rules of grammar exactly. And does not dance around a story circle. Filled with depth and aphorisms and wit. Is never read.

If a genre book is considered literary is it no longer genre? If a literary book is blandly written is it still art? Is storytelling itself art, regardless of the prominence or not of adjectives in its prose?

I always wanted to write whatever the British equivalent of The Great American Novel is. In wanting to learn how to do this I have become more and more interested in turning a collection of words on a page into a continuous moving image in the reader’s mind. I write westerns now. The goal of the books is not to blow you away with a skilful display of my vocabulary and the wrangling of obscure and rarefied words, but to put the words out of your mind entirely. I want my stories to grab you by the hair and drag you through the dirt. I want you to read them in one sitting and turn that last page with your heart racing and your eyes raw with fatigue and belly hungry. But instead of eating, or sleeping, I want you to turn right back to the start and read it again. Is that art?

To do that, maybe I have not created art. I have created entertainment.
Will that do? Is that enough?
I still want to write The Great British Novel, but writing pulp is too much fun.

Right now I am sick. I’m sat on the couch amidst a snowstorm of crumpled tissue. My nose is red. I’m sniffling. I have a tickle at the back of my throat that I have been refusing to turn into a cough since I started writing this incoherent nonsense. I should be writing the next chapter in my book but instead I am rambling about, what? Whether or not writing is art? I have no idea. I have lost the thread of my original thought. The cold that has turned my brain into a red hot storm of snot has forced my imagination into some kind of fevered spasm of bollocks.

I have the urge to write but not the clarity to do so usefully. So now I have done this. I started writing with no plan and have ended up here, and you’re right here with me, wondering what the point of any of this is.
We are conjoined in an existential crises of blog gibberish. I will set you free so I can go and sneeze.

Let me leave you then. I am going to drink coffee, cough up some lung-butter (as Rachel so juicily calls it), take some Sudafed, and try again to write what I opened my laptop to write in the first place. Some good old fashioned gun-slinging pulp fiction.

Rhinovirus and The Novel


Let’s all get sick at Christmas. That’s the best way to celebrate. Curl up on the couch and cough into a tissue. Still, we’ll make up for it on New Year’s Eve. Board games with the kid and the missus, quizzes, cheesy snacks, we’ll stay up late laughing and joking and we’ll do all the things we were too ill to enjoy on Christmas.

And then on to the conversation everyone has on New Year’s Eve, “Got any new year’s resolutions?”

Actually, I do. I’m 50,000 words into my next novel. I’m going to finish it. It’s a good resolution because it’s an easy one to accomplish. Another resolution; never get sick again. That’s a bad resolution because it’s impossible. What is the point of a cold though? Who does it benefit? The germs? If the germs found a way to procreate and eat without pissing off their host they would do a lot better. We wouldn’t try and kill them with Beechams for a start.

That reminds me, the cold medicine I was taking went out of date in September. That probably means nothing but maybe the decaying molecule that is meant to help me will some how make things worse. Or maybe I’ll get superpowers. Fevered Snot Man to the rescue! I bought them in a supermarket three months after they went bad. I’m still a bit ill so this post is going to jump around a lot. I’m not in the frame of mind to think straight. I’m in the mind to think wonky.

The common cold is scientifically known as the rhinovirus. I feel like more people should call it that.

“Hi boss, I can’t come in to work today, I have rhinovirus.”

“Oh my god, where did you catch that? Africa? Are you going to die?”

“Nothing some Lemsip won’t fix.”

Actually it won’t fix it. Nothing will. If you take Zinc early enough you might knock a day off the disease but you might also get a metallic taste in your mouth, become nauseous, and lose your sense of smell. So you’re not really gaining much. Vitamin C might knock a day off too but studies have proven uncertain. The problem is, you’re not fighting the virus. All the bad symptoms are created by your immune system going into battle mode. You have to take on yourself to get better. Take an antihistamine for your nose, an anti-inflammatory for your throat (or sinuses, or something), a paracetamol for the fever, and ibuprofen for the pain. You’ll be dehydrated and unable to sleep but at least your nose will stop running.*

Your best bet is to take some LSD and spend the next few days laughing and crying while being harassed by huge cackling multi-coloured Christmas ornaments.

The thing I don’t like about being ill is that I can’t write very well, or think too well either. I don’t want to take a week long pause from the novel but I have no choice. I sit and stare at the first quarter of the chapter I’m currently on and can’t make any sense of it. I know something isn’t working but can’t figure out what. It seems sloppy somehow. Bu today, today I feel almost okay again. I opened up that document and saw the problem. Away went the fingers and the prose straightened itself out.

That’s what I should be doing instead of writing nonsense for my website. Why am I doing this? It feels like the site goes stale if I don’t add something at least once a month. Even if it is just the ramblings of a sick man.

The next blog post I write will be much more coherent and interesting.

There is a kid in the book I’m writing called Dirk. He’s in bed right now. I have to go and ruin his sleep. God I love writing horror.


* Unless you actually have Influenza in which case your nose won’t be running anyway. But you might die soon, so don’t worry too much about the Lemsip. Also, don’t take anything I’ve said here as scientific fact. It’s probably accurate enough but I have things to do and Wikipedia is a rabbit hole that I don’t have time to fall down right now.