Sunday 18th February 2018
First weekly post. I decided to write a blog entry each week to account for what I have been doing as a writer. In this, my first of these posts, I will say what I have been doing since the beginning of 2018.
The main work in progress is my third novel. The Streets of London, as I call it, is set in the late 1960s and early 1970s. The story it tells is about the lives of three teenagers who leave home and go to live in England’s capital city. The novel captures some of the flavour of that period of time, beginning with the summer of love, moving through the end of the swinging sixties and concluding with the years of change.
That is the story line. Behind it, there is a theme – what it means to be a man in the twentieth century. This theme explores masculinity – in its variations and how young men become masculine adults – or not, as the case may be. So, in one respect the novel is about growing up and becoming adult; in other respects, it is about individuality and how young people find themselves.
I started work on the book early in January and for several weeks pages flew off the computer on a daily basis. That is the good news. Having got the easy stuff out of the way, I am now finding I need to spend most of my working day doing research. That is the bad news. In the sense that work on actually writing the novel has slowed right down.
All three of my first novels have been set in special (past) periods of time. Holiday was set in 1966. The Trench was set in the mid 1980s. The Streets of London covers a period from 1967 to 1971. When I write about a specific period of the past, I want to get the details right. My works are not historical novels – not like stories set in the long past, stories about Tudor monarchs or Victorian noblemen. Even if they are not about the past, the stories have to be accurate. Works of fiction, in my view, need to get their facts right. Authors should not fictionalise the past. All my novels contain a lot of factual detail – it forms the backdrop and the props around which my characters act their parts. What I hate most, in novels or films, is seeing or reading things that could not have happened at the time. Or worse still, characters saying things that could not have been said at the time. Chronological disasters. Anachronisms. It would be entirely wrong for a character in 1967 to use a phrase that was not ‘invented’ until the early twenty-first century. That is a mistake made by writers who have not bothered to do their job properly. It would be as ridiculous as portraying someone in the sixties using a mobile phone. I like bringing the past alive – to readers who could not have been there at the time. Millennials. Even if you were born long after 1967, I want you to read my book and feel like you ‘were there.’
What else have I been doing?
In order to get my head round some of the issues that will appear in the theme of my novel, I have been writing two large essays. One is about the nature of masculinity. The other is about what I call individuality.
That shows how I work. I do research and a lot of reading. I then write about what I have learned. These two essays act a silos for what I know about the subjects. I will blog about these topics when I have completed my research of them.
Apart from that I have continued to write gig reviews for Music in Leicester magazine. Much of my work for the magazine has been put on the back burner so I can concentrate my mind on my novel.
And now here is next week’s news
Work on my research essays (mentioned above) will continue. I will be reporting on some of the music events I plan to attend. I will try to draft a few more pages of my novel. My guess is that I will be working on it for a long time. I also write pieces in the book I call my Writers Journal. This book is a store for my thinking about whatever it is my pen is doing at the time. I might public extracts from it in this series of posts.