So we’re a few days into 2017, and i’ve finally managed to get my head around what I want to do with it. I’m surprised how much i’ve prepared, with the series of journals and pads full of ideas, short stories, and my next big projects.
I am just about to finish the fourth draft on my first novel, which has taught me a lot about the writing process, and how much work goes into it. I was told the other day by a friend and writer, that I was something of an anomaly for deciding to write a book before a short story; it wasn’t anything surprising to hear that I didn’t go about things in the logical order.
I am known as somewhat of a plunger by nature, which involves suddenly deciding to pull my roots from the ground, and leap into something different and usually terrifying. It isn’t something that appeals to everyone, but my life has been filled with many interesting twists and turns, which have developed me as a human being, and subsequently given me enough firepower to affect people with my writing.
Going over my novel again and again, which any novelist will tell you is kind of a sad-maschostic mixture of : typos, telling and not showing, grandiose prose, and poorly chosen adjectives, but then there’s the relief that somehow it’s all going to be ok if you just keep writing.
At every stage of my writing I have been proud of what i’m doing, reminding myself to keep going forward. Then once i’m done, I dig through the stuff that doesn’t work, and finding those bits which make me smile and keep me going. I am not very good at figuring out what people want, so I also focus on what I want to write, and what makes me want to continue writing. It is great however in doing what makes me happy, making others happy in turn. I’m always eager to share, and I appreciate it when people want my opinion, which has been identified as: Honest, Harsh, and Kind.
Writing has helped connect to myself and the world around me, and if I can help other people realise that they’re not alone, and there are always people who are interested, then I can feel a little less bad about trying to make a living doing very little work. I don’t know how i’ve got so far in life without realising that this is what I wanted to do, but now i’m here it seems so obvious.
I’ve already begun planning my second novel, which will be set in Manchester, the city I was born in, but not exactly the one that exists. I’m excited to create awareness for a city that is quite like no other, and is English in the very briefest sense of the word. it’s a place that belongs to no-one, but then again every civilisation that has passed through has left its mark, like cultural fingerprints across its strange land.
I am looking forward to writing more efficiently and effectively this year, and trying harder to connect people to my work in all of its stages of completion. I am a firm believer that people can be trusted with works in progress, and there are always going to be those few who simply do not get it. I understand them wholeheartedly, I don’t get a lot of things either, but i’ll keep going anyway.
In order to get on with other projects I will need to finish my first novel, and put it in the hands of my most trusted and honest friends, who can tell me what’s working, and what’s going wrong. One of the hardest parts of writing for me has been the honesty, which is easily remedied when you are on sites like Scribophile, where people will happily tear your work to pieces for a laugh. The happy medium is considered the best feedback if i’m honest.
My novel, The Z-list Celebrities, follows a lot of themes and opinions i’ve been unable to shake over 2016. I can’t imagine I could find someone who didn’t have a negative word to say about the year, but what interested me most was the reaction of the regular people when things went wrong.
Wherever i’d look i’d see the rise of Brexit, defended by people who either didn’t really understand why things were the way they were, or just those that wanted to convey their anger at a system which has lied to us since the 80’s. The same goes for Trump, who despite the doomsday signs lurking over his shoulder, has encouraged people to stand up and take an interest in politics once more. That being said, most peoples views on politics is one of anger and frustration, but I can’t deny that I grew up in a generation that suggested it didn’t matter who was in charge, because you ended up with the same product.
Z-List is the aftershock of that way of thinking, a world where bad things are happening, but nobody seems to want to notice it till it’s too late. The rise of Orwellian governments, and the seemingly vapid media, forcing any old crap down our throats. I wanted to address my genuine fear and annoyance of a generation built on ignorance, in as stupid and weird way as possible.
The book deals with the power of loss, and the control that comes with it. Many people are terrified of losing what makes them who they are, and will either turn a blind eye to inequality, or stand for causes that don’t represent the rights of freedom. The biggest thing that intrigues me is this fear that someone could take away who you were, which isn’t what happens when you grow and change, but can sometimes seem similar.
I wanted to write a story that deal with characters who are always in someone else shadow, constantly trying to prove to everyone that they matter, but ultimately their just trying to convince themselves. When I came up with the title I would often wonder who the Z-List Celebrities were, and I think it’s all of us. We all want to be remembered, loved, and adored, and there are those who will go to any lengths to get it. At the same time when we feel like we don’t matter, it can drag us down and kill us.
The books full of: monsters, wanna-be celebrities, politicians, the Easter Bunny, and all manner of silly moments, all to remind us that we are not alone, no matter who we are. I honestly believe that if we are going to make a world where people feel safe, then we are going to have to look past the differences, and remember that nobody knows what they’re doing, and the ones that look like they do are just pretending.
If I can share a story that ins’t just about me, but everyone, with people then i’m happy. If it helps someone realise that there’s more to life than the bad bits, the self-contained bits, and the sad bits, then I will have done my bit, even if it is in the laziest way possible.