It’s been nearly a month now since I did any work on the novel, and as per usual after this length of time away I’m starting to get a hankering to go back to it. Thank the hypothetical non-specific deity of choice for that. I live in perpetual fear that one of these days I’ll take a little break from writing to recharge my creative batteries and find that they are leaking acid all over the place and need to be binned forever and that’ll be it, my illustrious writing career over before I’ve even managed to finish a single book. Thankfully there seems to be some juice in that tank still, so come Monday I’ll be dusting off the old manuscript and seeing if I can eke out a thousand words or so more towards the end of the second draft.
There’s three reasons behind the hankering, I think, beyond the old fashioned stubbornness of wanting to finish the bloody thing after so long. First, going back to Sunderland, my University town of old and the starting place for the novel, rekindled some of what first started me down this road, back when I first sat down and started writing about two guys dreaming of a road trip in a very different book to the one I’m now writing. Being stood outside my old house with the friend who was the basis for one of those characters didn’t hurt either. Ever since then half formed thoughts and notes keep popping into my head, and I’m itching to go back to those early chapters and revisit them.

Secondly, I’ve recently joined an online writing group, and their daily posts and nudges and discussions popping up in my facebook feed are far more effective at getting me back to the computer than I thought they’d be. I normally avoid these kinds of groups, composed as they usually are of people flogging their own solutions, blogs, courses etc. But this group is much more laid back than all that. It all started off the back of a writing competition for the book club of a dreadful celebrity couple with no taste. When they failed to announce their shortlist at the pre-announced time their facebook page was bombarded with impatient writers wanting updates. Over the course of the next few days, this slowly turned into a blitz spirit as people sat hitting refresh on the page as the hope drained away with every passing hour. Predictably, with it being all wannabe writers, some of the threads became incredibly amusing and heartfelt and probably more readable than the incredibly generic sounding titles that made the eventual shortlist.

Some bright spark decided to form a group off the back of it, and quite accidentally it’s become an actual thing that lives and breathes. I’m not really into sharing my work online with them for critiquing as a lot of them do (mainly because I can barely find the time to write as it is, let alone returning the critiquing favour) but the discussions on there are great, and there’s always stuff going up about new competitions and submission guidelines and all that sort of thing. It’s quite splendid really, and every time I see someone posting about their daily progress it makes me want to sit back down and open the manuscript again. So if any of you are reading this, cheers!

Lastly, I’m reading an absolutely brilliant book at the moment, which always provokes the contrary twin reactions of self-doubt and inspiration. Self-doubt because great writing always makes me question whether I could ever reach those kinds of levels, and inspiration because I want to be someone who does. The book I’m reading at the moment is Old Gold by Jay Stringer, the husband of my oldest internet friend. I’ve meant to get round to it for ages (he’s recently published the third in the series) because you should support people you (kind of) know and because his aforementioned wife is a stonkingly awesome person (and a fantastically talented writer herself), and I’ve been feeling guilty about not picking it up. I’m now three quarters of the way through Old Gold and I can add feeling stupid to feeling guilty, because it’s one of the best books I’ve read in years. If you like crime novels then you should absolutely get on it, because it’s both brilliantly inventive and wonderfully written, with a central character who is utterly identifiable to me even though I’m in no way a half Romany ex-policeman living in Wolverhampton. Anyway, I’m burning through it at a rate of knots at the moment, and already have books two and three lined up to follow it, and with every page I am itching to open my own novel and try and make my imaginary reader feel the same way Jay is making me feel.

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