Ritting routine

I am almost a writer, I feel. In that I feel a little more like a writer than yesterday, last week, last month. Although, never having been one before, I am not entirely sure what it should feel like. I mean, by the same definition,  I also feel more like a bear, because I am looking for excuses to hibernate, punctuated by adventures in marmalade and/or honey. Plus I have very little brain. Trust me. I’ve forgotten if I had any toast this morning.

Better have some more to make sure.

And this feeling writerly / ritterly is on top of imagining my writing skills as some form of dog, inspired by a cow. It gets quite noisy, and messy, in my head sometimes. Lots of paws for thought. I said, ‘lots of paws for thought’. Oh all right, suit yourselves.

Yes, it’s animal month in the Ivan imagination. In the novel so far we have monkeys, seagulls, crows, pigeons and a rabbit. And, obviously, the first law being write about what you know, it’s drinks year. Those already named include whisky, port, Guinness, rum and vodka.  Perhaps I should abandon all attempts at fiction and simply produce lists of things. I’d need a hook, though. Some variation of ‘The most crap top-tens for un-adventurous boys in 2010 ever’. Yes, that will get me published.

Although now that I think about it – yes, dear reader, the poor sod writing this actually thinks like this – I should name some of the drinks that Tom erm, drinks, after animals.  Which would normally be the perfect excuse to lose myself in the intertron for a couple of hours researching animal-themed names for drinks that have some loose connection with children’s stories. (Feel free to comment if any spring to mind).

But I digress. Of course. This is half the point of my writing. To wander around. Turn the corner. Open cupboards. See what’s inside.

Of course there are different definitions of ‘writer’.  To a degree, I get paid for putting one word in front of another. It’s just that they’re not necessarily English, and they tend to have more logic and structure than my fiction. They’re also, mercifully, shorter.

I have yet to meet another definition of ‘writer’ – that of being referred to as ‘a writer’. My greatest envy/pleasure at the moment, is that my friend-through-marriage As is referred to as a film-maker.  All the prizes he’s won don’t help (the envy) but it’s the plain old simple introduction that I’m most jealous of. ‘He makes films’. One day – one day I’ll be referred to as ‘he writes books’. Until then, it’s plain old ‘puts some funny stuff in email / on his blog / gibber jabbers like a crazy fool’. Sigh.  That’s a long old Native American name.

But in the sense that I’m ‘working at writing’ – that I now write most days, in volume and vaguely to a plan. Well, yes. I am a writer. I need a few hundred words to warm up – hence this post about nothing, but I do feel a bit more of a writer than I used to. And that’s mainly down to routine. To work. And a little discipline. I take the knocks a little easier now. I don’t let myself by side-tracked so much. I don’t spend hours lost in researching the name of a pub or person who only appears in bookspace for two paragraphs.

I can’t remember if I’ve blogged this before, but Doctorow has a good tip – if you are in the flow of something and you need to look up a reference, simply star it (or in my case I type *elephant*, as I’m pretty sure I won’t write about elephants.  I mean, I’m not saying never, a gig’s a gig, but for the most part, my animals are domestic.  Hmm, except I’ve just realised the first time you meet the main character he’s dressed as a leopard.  But that’s just Tom. You get used to him. It’s the kind of thing he does.)  Anyway – *elephants* – means you can keep writing the rest of the sentence / story without breaking off to lose yourself in the wikifacetwitverse looking up trivial details.
And it works. Except when you send a scene off for sense-checking proofing and realise that the priest* (I was unsure as to whether priests can/do officiate/speak/wander around in that English vicar tradition at civil crematoriums) is still referred to as an elephant.  Of course, it says something about these readers’ tolerance of my writing that it did not strike them as odd that the person conducting the service was an elephant.
*Actually, I haven’t formally established this yet either.  But seeing as this happens about half way through the novel, and I want to finish the bloody thing first, it will just have to wait. So a priest in an elephant mask it is.
I suppose I should be proud of this. Get a badge made: ‘Can write pachyderms into main story arc without confusing reader’. Bit of a mouthful for a badge. Perhaps a certificate? I could frame it next to the one that says ‘Ivan has developed a writing routine that seems to work and he’s now over 30,000 words into the novel.’
So there you have it – my writing routine. Dreaming up prizes for myself while anthropomorphising well-loved animals (and cows), observing my tea get cold like a lost tourist in this strangely disorganised place.  And letting my four typing fingers dance around a bit and hope they will magically co-operate and produce something coherent, as rendered by dots on a screen. My other fingers get jealous, and try to trip them up every now and again. Which is why you hear ‘click click click’ so often if you hear me type – it’s the backspace key.  The music of error – the music of chance.
Right. To writing. Now that the brain is functioning (ha!), the *elephants* are back in the cupboard and I’m used to the clacking sound on the keys, it’s time to fire up the mighty Mogwai and make Tom have an awkward conversation with a man about a piano, quadratic equations and old copies of the Racing Post.
And perhaps it’s time to write some mogwais into the story too.  They can join the mcguffins.

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