Monday, September 25, 2006

Distractions

I had to go to Anglesey this morning. Ynys Môn. The Island of the Mighty. Three hours in the car, an hour going through some sheep parasite data, then three more hours in the car to come back again. Another little project that keeps me in beer and skittles without troubling the old synapses too much. Wednesday and Thursday I get to collect shit again. Hooray!

The paying work is starting to pick up again, which is nice. But it does get in the way of the writing. I am in awe of people who can work a full day, then spend hours at the keyboard at night hammering out their magnificent octopus. Which is to say I am in awe of my younger self, since in times past that is what I have done. Oddly enough, I can work all day writing, then carry on into the wee small hours, but if I've been doing something non-literary through the day, I find it very hard not to settle down in front of the telly and vegetate.

Life is not helped by the big box of comics that arrived on Friday. Nor by the complete series two DVDs of Battlestar Galactica that want to be watched. The Horse Doctor doesn't approve of Battlestar Galactica. She says it's too grim (which is probably fair comment) and won't let me watch it when there's something else she could be watching. Since the rugby season has started, that means pretty much every evening.* But right now she's in Ireland (not watching the golf, though give her a chance...), which means the telly is mine.

So I can reason, as I sit down to watch four or five episodes back to back, that I'm just making the most of the opportunity, right? There's plenty of time to finish Benfro book three tomorrow. Or the next day. Or...

That way disaster lies.

The Psychology graduate in me dons his cloak and mortar board at this point and wonders out loud whether there might not be some other reason why I am so easily distracted. And though over the years of neglect the cloak has become somewhat moth-eaten and the mortar board rather dusty, I may well have a point. I can still remember the feeling of elation I had when I typed 'the end' at the end of my first book. It might have been crap, it might never see the light of day, but I had set out to write a book and I had finished. My second book, this time a novel, gave me a similar, but perhaps not quite so intense, high. I walked tall in the knowledge that I had created something unique and original from the odd machinations of my mind. It was probably still crap,** and would also likely never see the light of day, but it was an achievement. Something that couldn't be taken away from me.

Since then I have written many many words. Some might say too many, others not enough. But with each finished story, that wonderful sense of achievement has faded. Like an alcoholic who no longer even notices the effect of the first bottle, I need a bigger and bigger hit to push that magic button.

Perhaps this is why Benfro three has grown so large. My subconscious (which is not a place to go without a guide, a compass and three weeks' supplies) has built the monster into some huge bloated thing, wobbling over the horizon like a 50s B-Movie. Scream as the full horror of it is unleashed on the innocent. Gasp in amazement that anyone would dare write such a thing. Marvel at the sheer bloody-mindedness that pushes one man forward, day by day, towards an end that is never more than a smudge on the horizon.

Which is the problem. I had hoped to have this book finished two months ago. It's starting to get old. In my mind, I've finished it. There's just the small matter of getting those last few sections out onto the page. But every time I open the file, scan what I've written, poise my fingers over the keys to start typing, suddenly my brain feels very, very tired.

Had these distractions arrived a couple of months ago, I could have ignored them, waved them away with a disdainful hand. Now, as the end limps slowly closer, it's very hard not to succumb.

* some men might worry that their other half liked to spend her time watching thirty swarthy men sweating and heaving in the mud and rain. Me, I just take it in my stride. Rugby, after all, is just a game played by gentlemen with odd-shaped balls.
** actually, it was (is) crap, as I discovered recently whilst re-reading it to send to my agent. Talk about running before you can walk. That was a predictably nasty crash into the sideboard, with subsequent cracked bones, bloody nose and bruised ego.

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