Author Post : Alec McQuay

Keeping on keeping on – a blog and practical demonstration.

So Adele has asked for blogs for the Fox Spirit website and, as one of the people she has caught in her big net of enthusiasm and casual author trafficking, here I am.

My own blog has been badly neglected for quite some time while I’ve been working on other things and, frankly, those things have reached a point where I need to stop and step away for a minute to do something else. It’s a thing with writing, I find, where you always feel like you need to be moving forwards but don’t always really know where you’re going. Then, as a very wise and smiley cat once said, “if you don’t know where you’re going, any road will take you there.’ Output for the sake of it isn’t always a good thing though, I’ve learned that from the first draft of my novel which I am currently hammering into shape in a series of edits that is to editing what a good pounding with a Howitzer is to landscape gardening. But movement, in a generally forwards-ish direction, is good. That’s the thing with writing I guess, you just have to keep doing it.

I haven’t been doing this for very long in the grand scheme of things, a couple of years man and, erm, slightly younger man, and in that time I’ve sometimes found it difficult to keep going. There’s no real money in it to speak of, the occasional reviewer will wind up and kick you right in the balls (or metaphoriballs), the hours are shit and you often only have yourself for company, which is the point when you realise how immature you actually can be. Sitting down to right/research/read or do anything towards that dream of being a real, bonafide writer, with my own private army and helipad and ting? Sounds great! Then that part of your brain goes “wonder what’s going on over at Facebook, or Twitter… Ooh! Look! A monkey farting the national anthem! Three for one on 1500000 milligram capsules of branch chain amino acids! POOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOORN!”

I just realised that the end of that sentence looked a lot like poo until right at the end, which is a metaphor for a whole other kind of internet video in its own right. Hmm… Moving on then…

The point of all this rambling, vaguely coherent bollocks is that I’m not in the mood for this. I’m not. I was kept awake by someone’s horrible, horrible children last night (my wife’s and, allegedly, mine), I was late for work, I have a headache, tonight is the first meeting with my son’s first school and AFTER ALL OF THAT I’ve got a very, very heavy gym session ahead of me. Boo-frickedy-hoo, I hear you, I don’t know, type I guess, but I sat down and wrote this incoherent loud of badger-nads anyway. I moved forwards. I practiced my craft in a small and totally disposable fashion. If I hadn’t then this would have been a lunch break sat staring at the clock and thinking about the manuscript I “should” be working on, or looking at the half-painted Warhammer models that litter my desk.

Instead, I’ve done the writing equivalent of going for a gentle jog rather than sitting on my butt and lamenting my poor health. I’m not going to edit this, I might not even read it back before sending it to Adele (liar! You’re far too amused by yourself to do that) and she may or may not post it, but I did something today.

Sitting and writing something that you know will get savaged in the edits isn’t a waste of time at all. It’s like a painter doodling in a sketch pad, or a wannabe pro-footballer playing keepy-uppy or hoofing a ball against their garage door. Who knows? I might find something in this that helps me, or someone else, further down the line, or it might be one for the embarrassing dustbin of experience, one that my mum wouldn’t even stick on the fridge in case visitors started thinking she’d dropped me on the head as a child.

The point is, now that my lunch break is over and I have to stop rambling and go do something productive, that if you only write on days when you feel at your best, you’ll probably never achieve anything at all.