Daily Archives: April 18, 2011

Witness the Fiction

Wasn’t it Thoreau who said a writer is someone who, having nothing to do, finds something to do?

And wasn’t it Pitching the World’s mum who told him at the weekend about how Barry Manilow is really into making music, that he gets up early everyday and is just totally immersed in it and consumed by it?

And does the Writers’ & Artists’ Yearbook have the contact details of 66 publications that accept fiction?

Yes to all three questions (And yes to a fourth too: isn’t this a terrible – and terribly pretentious – way to start a post?) but those three colourful strands came together this morning and I realised it’s high time I started writing fiction. I just want to get into something, you know, get immersed. Like Barry Manilow. I desperately want to become Barry Manilow. For one, it’ll make a pleasant break from drawing chronically unpublishable cartoons and sending begging letters to Red Bull. For two, it might make me some money. For three, the sooner I pitch all these magazines the sooner we can all get out of here.

So, short stories. I’ve got ideas. Oh, I’ve got ideas; if anything I’ve got too many ideas. The following three are among the best and written up from my notebook:

1. “Perhaps write something about a dog that goes back to college” – Or so I’ve said in my notebook. I don’t know why I’ve chosen for this dog to go back to college, rather than simply to college, but there seemed to something more poetic about a dog returning to college. I don’t really know what happens once the dog is actually at the college, but it doesn’t really matter. Look! It’s a fucking dog! Going to college! Or back to college. If I knew what an allegory was, I have a feeling this could well be one. (note: could work equally well with a bear or horse).

2. A first-person piece about a character, reminiscing about the time he first met a peculiar fellow called Stan Rummage. “Write it punchy, like dialogue in a play” I’ve written “Like: I don’t remember the first time I met Stan Rummage. Who remembers this stuff? ‘The first time I met Brenda she wore these shoes and this dress and the light did this to her hair’ – bullshit. All of it. People can’t remember that. I can’t remember what I had for breakfast, let alone…”  That’s how I’m planning on writing it. I know: not bad. Anyway it turns out that Stan Rummage is HIM, the actual narrator, it’s like he met HIMSELF. And guess what: turns out he’s murdered someone. I know: brilliant.

3. My final idea was about a 35-year-old man who used to write speeches for politicians but now lives in his Nan’s dining room in Boscombe. This one will be surreal, more surreal than the dog (or possibly bear or horse) going to college (or back to college). The hero of this short story, Steven, writes a blog – even though he hates blogs – and has sex with women in big bins around the back of supermarkets because he’s reluctant to bring them back to his Nan’s dining room. Steven dreams of moving to an island in the Mediterranean (he doesn’t know which one), where he’ll catch his own fish (he doesn’t know how), grow his own vegetables (he doesn’t know how), and work on his novel about a dog who goes to college. The centrepiece of this short story will be the assembly and varnishing of a bird table.

What do you think? Seriously. Because I don’t have time to write all three up I thought I’d like to hand it over to my award-winning readers to decide. Whichever one you think has legs (and it’s tough, I know) I’ll write up and send off this week. And I’ll probably post it up here later in the week too. Unless it’s terrible. Which, clearly, it won’t be.

Over to you: