How to Lose a Mind in Two Days

On Friday I scribbled some notes down on scraps of paper and sellotaped them to the wall beside my desk. Stuff like: “ROCKY WAS WRITTEN IN A WEEKEND” “BEARD?” and “MAKE FOGGY – MAKE REALLY FOGGY.” I’ve no idea what that last one means. I’m not sure if Rocky was written in a weekend and I don’t want to check. I’m not entirely sure about the beard bit, either. Does my character have a beard? Should I be questioning my own beard? Clearly the work of a lunatic. Yet I felt such notes provided me with the impetus to start writing, so on Friday afternoon I sat down to write and I sit here on Sunday with thirty-something pages written. The beginning is done. The end is done. The middle needs work. Needs so much work, in fact, that I’m tempted to write “THE MIDDLE NEEDS MORE WORK. MAKE IT FOGGY.” and sellotape it to the wall beside my desk.

Still, good to get the skeleton of a small book down over a weekend. And the weekend isn’t over yet. Who knows how many more insane notes I’ll write by the end of today? Not me. I don’t know anything. Except these 10 things, all learnt since Friday:

1. Writing about a man dancing with a vacuum cleaner in Russia is a lot easier than you might expect.

2. Writing about a tennis match is quite hard.

3. Whilst examining a fictional character’s marriage break up it occurred to me that my marriage may have broken up for similar reasons: that when I first met my wife I presented a side to myself that barely existed and then tried to sustain a relationship based upon this; essentially for four years acting out a character I invented one night at a party when drunk. Cool, isn’t it?

4. Writing over 5,000 words in a day leaves you physically tired. You’d expect mental or even emotional tiredness, but not the physical sort. The feeling is not unpleasant though – more odd – and left me wanting to experience what it’s like to write 10,000 words in a day.

5. I tend to use the word ‘certainly’ too much.

6. If you write something funny that makes you laugh, it feels good. If, however, you fake laugh when reading something you’ve written to try and convince yourself that it’s funny it doesn’t feel quite so good.

7. According to a 1995 paper in Astrophysical Journal entitled “Interstellar Alcohols”, alcohol exists outside of this solar system.

8. I was offered a weekly poker column last week. This isn’t related to my ‘journey’ this weekend, but I thought you might be delighted to know.

9. When I’m not writing well I use the word ‘fuck’ all the time. When I am writing well, I barely fuck at all.

10. I have wild eyes. A friend drove past me as I walking back from the local shop on Friday and asked what I was doing.

“Writing a book. Small book. Novella. Thing.” I said.

“Is that why you’ve got wine and ham?”


“Your eyes have gone weird. What’s happened to your eyes? You look mental.”

Then he honked his goodbyes and was off. Is this what we’ve become, I thought, a race of people driving around in cars all day telling other people that their eyes have gone weird? This certainly wouldn’t have happened a hundred years ago. When I got home though I checked, and my blunt friend was correct: My eyes had gone weird.


17 responses to “How to Lose a Mind in Two Days

  1. Dear author to future best seller, what thought provoking points for self-reflection and many congratulations on pushing the bum comfort boundaries by getting so much done. I hope you do not mind, but I couldn’t resist a couple of comments. Unsure how long it took Sly to write Rocky, but couple of interesting points. An inspiration was the fight between Ali and Wepner in ’75. Apparently Sly told Wepner after this fight, which he lost to Ali in the 15th round, he would write his screenplay. By ’76, after roughly a month’s low budget filming it was done. Amazing. I was recently reading Le Carre’s “Our Kind of Traitor” and I actually did think to myself, whilst reading in part as usual during a “relief” interlude on the toilet, how difficult it must be to write about a tennis match (which he touches on here and there with two of the main characters). Your point is “certainly” a pertinent one and a great challenge to be paid at the door of any budding writer irrespective of age and experience. Finally, before I drift onto tangents and write further tedious drivel of such mediocrity who would give a “fuck”, may I ask did the ham and wine help? If so I must dash to a pork section of a Dubai market, buy a black pig’s leg and purely for professional purposes a couple of bottles of pomerol to fuel the limited flames of creative subconscious. Again many congrats on the Fri-Sun delivery!

    • Thanks for all that, Man in the Sand man. Ah, I would love a black pig leg. I love black pig. There are lots around here. Now that you mention it, I remember that Rocky/Chuck Wepner stuff. If I didn’t have a small book to write, I’d watch Rocky I and Rocky II this afternoon. Might regardless.

  2. You should definitely make it foggy. Really foggy. Perhaps like the foggy surrealism of William S. Burroughs’ Naked Lunch, Hunter S. Thompson’s Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas or a David Lynch film, where the narrative style intoxicates the reader/viewer. There I go being overly intellectual and killing the humor of your fogginess.

    • I´m all for you being overly intellectual, M. And all for you murdering my foggy humour. I was thinking more Chief Bromden in One Flew Over etc. In the book he gets well foggy. I’m rereading it (stealing from it) as we speak.

      • McMurphy gets well foggy… such a sad book. I’m having trouble envisioning your novella as a horribly depressing complex social commentary. But I suppose there is a lot to steal from One Flew Over etc.

  3. Ace!
    CB x

  4. p.s. Since when do comments await moderation?!

    • God knows. Not sure about the mechanics behind it, but I think that once you’ve posted once then your comments are automatically approved. Prior to that, it’s up to me to moderate, though I allow everything. Think of me as a benevolent dictator, if you like. Don’t know why this has happened to you. Have you changed your email address?

  5. Steve, I think you have utterly splendid eyes, so there!

  6. Thanks H-Bomb. I was in a bar – outside, in the sun – not too long ago when a hot woman on the table next to me leant over and said something like, “You probably get this all the time, but you’ve got amazing eyes.” To which I replied, “I get it a lot. And to be honest I’m just trying to have a conversation with my friends…” which I meant to be odd and funny (I was kind of smiling, with my eyes, as I said it) and not rude, but she looked at me like I was a total prick. She may have even called me a prick. I forget a lot. Foggy, you see. Anyway, now, instead of women saying I’ve got amazing eyes I get men from Oldham saying I have weird eyes. Do you know what that is Hugh? That’s karma. Probably.

  7. We get a lot of fog around here. I don’t really care for it. You have to drive slow, and so then you’re even later for everything. I like the fog you get in temperature inversions. But is that fog or just low cloud? I like people with mental eyes, especially at Halloween. Keep up the good work Pitchy, it seems as if progress is being made. Which is jolly good news.

    Mya x

  8. My guess is that Rocky took less than a w/e to write, ‘certainly’ no longer than a couple of hours to come up with… or at least it would have surprised me more to learn that it had taken anyone, let alone Sly, longer to pen such an uninspired and predictable storyline. Really hoping that your intended masterpiece errs more towards the idea of dancing with vacuum cleaners in Moscow ( which sounds interesting a fun if potentially a little foggy) rather than a tale about having the crap kicked out of you by Mr T whiles’t you are confined in a small roped off area and a pair of oversized, if sparkly, shorts. I certainly wouldn’t buy that dross… again!

    • You’ve got to be fucking kidding me, smiigtt, the Rocky script is splendid. Certainly splendid. Really, very, certainly splendid. The Moscow vacuum cleaner bit could potentially soak up 8,000 words. Imagine that. I can’t. I’m going to have to though. Or perhaps I won’t have to: perhaps I can go to Moscow and act it all out. Jesus, this comment is getting well heady. And foggy. Best of luck with everything.

      • Oi Pitchsex, think you need to do a bit more moderating – I don’t like this smiigt character, not one bit.

        Rocky, uninspired?


        I rest my case

  9. Oh! And felicitations are in order regarding the poker column. Can you play poker?

  10. Thank you very much Mya. I love fog. If I had the money I’d buy a dry ice machine tonight, instal it in this room, get it all foggy and watch The Fog. That’s how much I love fog. And dry ice. And the film The Fog. And tonight.

  11. Here’s what Strunk and White have to say about ‘Certainly.’
    “A mannerism of this kind, bad in speech, is even worse in writing.” Are they correct? Should I be making a comment here about Strunk and White certainly being a pair of plums? Frankly, I don’t have the strength. Or the belief.

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