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October 15, 2006

A Novel… in 90 seconds.

I’ve always fancied the idea of writing a book, just so long as I can take the credit without doing any of the work. So here’s my first – and probably last – novel, which I’ve condensed into a couple of hundred words to save you and me the bother of writing/reading it. Do let me know if I’ve inadvertantly stolen it from someone else.

Act 1
Man, aged about 30, living in London, 1997. Everything’s fine and rosy, but some things jar slightly. Traffic lights don’t look quite the same. People have mobile phone implants. You know, the usual. Reader suspects that this is some parallel version of 1997 (mammoth hints are dropped when Charles and Diana celebrate their anniversary together). Man gets himself into something he shouldn’t be in (walking in on some lame-ass drug deal or football bung). Reader is very sympathetic (following several chapters which have portrayed him as a thoroughly decent bloke who they’d quite like as a husband/son/father). Something-he-shouldn’t-be-in gets played out for 50-60 pages before he is summarily executed at the hands of some thoroughly unpleasant people. End of Act One.

Act 2
Man, aged about 30, living in Scarborough, 2032. Man has been playing an online-based ‘virtual life’ for the past three years and his death in the ‘game’ means he is booted out and returned to the real, offline world. Things have – you guessed it – changed significantly for the worse in those three years, with family members dying, North Korea finally having blown up the Eastern Hemisphere and climate change having progressed so quickly that it’s now on the downward-side of the curve, quickly approaching 57 degrees below zero. Majority of act chronicles his attempts to deal with this new world he inhabits. Act closes with him stealing someone else’s identity in order to be able to start again as a new player in his online game.

Act 3
Man, aged about 27, living in London, 1994. Said man finds that virtual world is unfortunately realistic and while he was happy in Act 1, his new life turns out to be thoroughly shite. Spends 20-30 pages pondering the fact that what life deals you is pretty much down to luck and realises that he has to choose between dying again (and going back to real world full of ‘real’ problems) or making the most of what his virtual self has. I’ve not quite decided which he should do yet.

Pile of toss, eh? Glad I didn’t waste a year turning it into a 500-page tome of crap.

P.S. If I turn out to have a rubbish sense of whether this is any good or not, I’m claiming full copyright on it. Don’t even try it!

February 07, 2006

Why I Blog

From a very early age, perhaps the age of five or six, I knew that when I grew up I should be a writer. Between the ages of about seventeen and twenty-four I tried to abandon this idea, but I did so with the consciousness that I was outraging my true nature and that sooner or later I should have to settle down and write books.

George Orwell

I think George Orwell and I have a lot in common.

Almost certainly not in terms of talent, and not always in terms of beliefs. But when it comes to working out what the hell to do with my life, Orwell's words make a lot of sense.

I'm still torn between going into broadcast and print journalism. Orwell did both, and while I'm definately going to train in broadcast, I can still see writing looming over me. My only consolation is that broadcast journalism still involves writing, albeit you then have to read those words out.

I definately agree with at least half of Orwell's reasons for writing. "Sheer egoism" is probably something that I can relate to – I wouldn't bother writing this blog entry if I didn't think someone was going to read it. I'm not sure about "aesthetic enthusiasm" – it's probably something I would like to be interested in, but I can't bring myself to 'flaff about' with the order of words, I prefer to just let them flow, which is why I rarely proof-read anything I write.

Again, I wouldn't be blogging if there wasn't an element of "historical impulse" inside me. Someone reading this tomorrow will still be reading something slightly historical, and I have to admit I like the idea of reading this again once I retire, looking back at the (probably) naive and idealistic views I held as a 21-year old.

And finally, I'm virtually obsessed with writing for a "political purpose". As Orwell said, everything containing a viewpoint is political in some way, and I would say that attempting to write without a political viewpoint, no matter how subtle, is both futile and worthless.

I don't expect to emulate Orwell himself, but I'll be happy if the majority of my writing isn't "lifeless…betrayed into purple passages, sentences without meaning, decorative adjectives and humbug generally."

All I need to do now is go and live rough in Paris for a bit.

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