This is the thing with writing, as I see it. It lives; it has a life of its own and when the head is in the right place it does whatever the hell it wants to do. It’s almost like the ideas don’t come from my brain but through my brain. Often, if the weather is right, I have no idea what will come out. It’s some sort of channelling, I suppose. That’s the best sort of writing because what happens on the page is exactly what is meant to happen. I can look at 500 words of writing like this and have nothing but love; have no clue whether or not it’s any good because what’s down there is precisely what’s meant to be there and that’s that.
I’m no authority – I’m not even pretending that I’m trying to teach you anything and even if I did have a back catalogue of published stories and could justify knowing a thing or two, I wouldn’t be telling you what to do or how to do it. It’s for you to work out. And also – I’ve never sent anything off for publication.
Bad writing, I think, is when there’s resistance. When the channels get blocked and there’s something in the way of the free movement of the idea from wherever it’s born to the page. This blockage is invariably the writer who has come to the desk too eager or too emotional or too tired or too anything that’s not helping him to clear his head. What I’ve found, and this is my own truth again, is that my really great writing creeps up on me and springs genius when I’m in a place that is uncluttered in my head. When I don’t try too hard.
Even in this shite-stabbing weather I need to get out. The mizzle was enough to put the girls off a day out in the woods – they stayed at home baking – but not enough to keep me in: it was the first Sunday in a long time where I have booked in no trips to the tip or decorating or repairs. I had told myself in the week that I needed a walk and I was going to take a walk.
Just the regular 5k (remember: 5k every day) along the little lanes in a loop back to Book Field and home. 5k = 3 miles = 1 hour = a clearer head. It is simple maths, just the way that I like it. It’s also very important research time for the ideas that are rumbling in the background – like Circle and the thing I’m building up in my mind about how the towns are cities are throbbing cities; plastic and neatly cut to a border: giant bubbles of artificial existence (us) connected by umbilical veins (roads, train lines, etc). The warm lava lamp is the idea speeded up and in 3D. The smaller spheres devoured by the bigger ones on and on relentless.
But circles don’t tesselate and it’s the fringes; the bits around the edges that are left alone that I escape to and it’s often beautiful. Even today in the rain with my wide-brimmed hat and ash staff; with my reserve boots and micro-fleece shirt. It was quite beautiful. The views from the lanes I walked were soft bundles of countryside: naked trees smoothed into a grey paste with fence and telegraph pole; the quite town distant and similarly benign with church steeple poking into the gloom. And when the rain really came it pattered on the brim and I didn’t at all regret that I was out there. Not at all. Just like I’m glad to be dry right now. Right now at my desk.