Yes, I am a bad blogger. Hopeless. Grade Zed – no, even worse than that, grade unter-Zed. Somewhere else I started a blog, did an entry, and then half-pie another one, and then quit. So I kind of think this one is likely to be similar, but who knows? Maybe I will be so energised by the high-quality responses from people who read this, that it will run and run. That would be nice.
What I’d like to write is about writing – to me, I think writers may enjoy writing, and may earn money and thrills and fun and fame from it, but that ultimately, in their heart of hearts, they write because they have to. At any rate, that is why I write. Yes, I do get pleasure from it. Sometimes I have got goosebumps as I’ve written especially thrilling passages; tears have come to my eyes, even on repeated readings, of other bits, and on the few occasions I’ve written something meant to be funny, I’ve smiled again, and again. All those things are true, and good, and help make writing worthwhile.
Ultimately though, I write because I feel compelled to write – a compulsion. It’s been in me since I was reasonably young, a teenager, and while I’ve been in the writing game professionally for more than twenty-five years, before that I kept starting things and trying other things…and I don’t imagine my experience is at all strange.
Naturally I would like it if my compulsion ah compelled readers to read my stuff. Like any writer, I want to be read. I think I have things to say that are worth saying, worth reading and worth thinking about. All my books are in some sense intellectual thrillers, even if they are all different: they are “novels of ideas”, and the ideas that underlie and inform them are what I would like readers to find most interesting about them.
That’s not for everybody. Nor is the sex and violence that percolate through the prose. I enjoy writing that stuff, and would like every reader to enjoy reading it too, along with everything in my books. But I know that as with the ideas, some people just don’t want to know.
For example, Demented, which is largely set in a dementia unit in an old people’s home, offended some readers because the reality of the setting involved people who were incontinent. I thought that feature an important part of the novel: the reality of what it is like to suffer from dementia and what it is like to care for people who suffer from it. One reader said, “Give me a break!” Another said, “Too much of poohs.” But a third, who had worked in such a place, said, “You got what it’s like perfectly.” So while I “lost” in this count two to one, to me, I won: “perfectly” from one who knows.
The thing that gets me down the most, however, is not resistance to things like this – after all no one has to like what I write – but missing the point altogether. My novel The Kleiber Monster is partly about the truth that most old people are women, typically widowed, and suggests, admittedly obliquely, that they should not moulder alone in their houses once their husbands die, but should buddy up with other women, not just as flatmates either. The idea was to raise this idea without beating people over the head with it, and while some readers got it immediately (one professional reader said, “Yes. Octogenerian lesbian sex”) others just saw another aspect of this relationship, and missed the underlying point. Bad writing, Steve, is my conclusion. But maybe I am being unfair to myself.
However I am hardly setting the world on fire at the mo.
Meanwhile I am writing another one. I just can’t help it. It’s my ninth novel though I have put only five on the net as e-books. I’m enjoying writing it. It’s different from the others, but the same too. Maybe it’ll be the one that cracks it for me, and people will go back to the others and find all the richness presently hidden from them!
Well, that’s me. If you have got this far, five stars! You don’t care about the stars, do you? Not to worry.