You are writing a book. You worry if you will be able to write a book. If people will like it. If it will be a bestseller. Or sell even one copy. To your best friend. Who is disparaging when you tell him your dreams. And looks at you askance. And reminds you of the time when you miss-spelt ‘pussy’ in your handwritten letter to Readers Wives.
You try many different writing techniques. You write on a desktop computer. On a laptop. On your iPad. On your phone. While watching the tele. A new BBC4 documentary series has started about writers lives. And you would definitely watch it if it didn’t clash with Love Island. Which you like to watch live to immerse yourself in the verisimilitude. Of the hot, perfectly formed bodies. Glistening in the Mediterranean sun.
You write by hand. In a special ‘thought’ journal. Imported from Uruguay. The postage of which takes 2 long months. The time which you spend deep in research. On Twitter. Working out how other writers do it. The bastards.
In the interest of intellectual freedom and expression for two weeks you try writing in the nude. You are thrown out of many cafés. And have a County Court Judgement against you. And appear in the local paper in a article. Which makes you a little bit famous.
‘The man with the tiny penis.’
But you comfort yourself with the knowledge that Jean-Paul Sartre faced worse.
You accept you will not be as famous as J K Rowling. Or Bob Dylan. Or Ian Rankin. Or that bloke off the radio who wrote a book about running a marathon. You would be happy to be as popular as George Gissing. You do not know who George Gissing is.
You save up for many months while working a dead end job as a dishwasher in a flea-pit hotel and use the money to book yourself on a writers retreat. In Corfu. Standing at the airport you are excited. You are going to be a real writer. At last. In celebration you attempt to buy yourself one of those expensive pens in WH Smith that can write in many colours but end up arguing with the lady behind the counter over why the duty free price should apply to only those travelling outside the EU. It’s a disgrace.
Upon arrival at ‘the retreat’ you are disappointed when you find that ‘the ‘retreat’ is not in a part of Corfu that is adjacent to a beach. Or a bar. Where drunk people will sleep with you. And be impressed with your linguistic and literary ability. You wonder why you have splashed out on a beret. Or the copy of Being and Nothingness you planned to leave artfully on a table to instigate conversation. ‘Just a little something I’m perusing. To stimulate the brain. I’m writing a book myself you know.’
You take against the course leader Quentin. With his degree from an off-shoot of Goldsmiths. (Brasssmiths?) And publication in ‘many famous literary journals’ which you have never heard of. And neither has Google! You self-inflated beaky-faced Antonin Artaud quoting tosser.
You also take against Felicity. And Dorothy. And James. And Nancy. And Percy(!). And Bianca, who thinks she is working class because she once worked as a chalet girl in the French Alps and had a brief affair with the Sultan of Brunei’s third cousin.
Your taking against them is on class ‘Power to the People’ grounds and nothing to do with Bianca drunkenly telling you that common consensus was your writing was ‘bum-obsessed’ and who wanted to read about a dishwasher in a crummy hotel anyway? This was after telling you she had been snapped up by an agent. Her mum and dad knew. And who had seen the potential in her from the thank you notes she had written in response to Christmas gifts. So beautifully formed. And spare. Like the poems of William Carlos Williams.
For the next two weeks you take to your room. You self- flagellate. You masturbate. You watch Prisoner Cell Block H long into the night. The sets wobble.
It is not you. It is them.
You will show them.
And you will write.
Seven Nights At The Flamingo Hotel is written entirely in the second person.
Photo. Author's own young man full of hope mugshot.
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