Posts Tagged ‘writing’

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I’ve talked about rejection before, and I think anyone who talks about writing (however infrequently) has to address rejection, because for the majority of writers it is just one of those immutable facts of life. As always there are exceptions, but they are rare, and whilst one may feel an annoyance with the lucky buggers, I do wonder if not getting rejections— if having your first story/book picked up, then the next one and the next one, without ever getting that hit of disappointment— is a good thing.

Don’t get me wrong. Rejection is horrible, I’ve talked before about how being a writer is a bit like being a boxer getting pummelled by punch after punch, but can you imagine a boxer who never takes a hit? Some kind of inhuman pugilist who’d make Muhammad Ali seem flat footed, a preternaturally fleet-footed ninja who no one could lay a glove on. Know what, eventually even such an individual will take a hit, and I’d be willing to bet that one punch, however light, will drop them like a stone.

Nietzsche’s assertion that what doesn’t kill us makes us stronger is naïve in the extreme, but on occasion there is some truth behind the notion, in particular when it comes to rejection. Just as eschewing shoes (eschoeing?) will eventually lead to the skin on the soles of your feet hardening, then hopefully rejections, assuming you don’t buckle and quit after the first few (and I would never begrudge anyone who does that because rejection is like a knife to the heart) will harden your heart and mean future rejections maybe won’t hurt quite so much.

Don’t get me wrong though, they’ll still hurt, and maybe they always should, but as counterintuitive as it sounds rejection can be a positive, I know I’ve channelled the despair I’ve felt over having been rejected in many ways. There’s the visceral “well, I’ll show you!” response to rejection, and often one of the best ways to handle a rejection is to take that story and fire it off towards someone else, and I think that’s a perfectly acceptable way to respond. The only note of caution I’d sound is that before you do you should always give a moment’s consideration to whether you can make it better first. Have you proof read it enough, could you polish some more? At the end of the day with any work of art, be it a sculpture, a musical composition, a painting or a story, there’s always a danger of it never feeling finished, but by the same token it would be annoying if a great story kept being rejected because publishers felt your grammar and spelling weren’t up to scratch.

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J.Kitten. Rowling suddenly had a new idea…

Rejection can prove a positive in other ways. In the last week I’ve been hit with a double whammy of rejection. Both were stories I felt were good, and both were stories that had been with publishers long enough that I’d started to feel overly hopeful (never a good idea, but there is some truth in the notion that the longer someone holds onto your story the more they like it) so in both cases it was a hard pill to swallow when the “Thanks, but no thanks,” came back. What’s curious is that in both cases, within an hour or so of getting the rejections my mind came up with new story ideas, one for each rejection, almost as if subconsciously I was saying; “Ok, you didn’t like that story but how about this one?”

As a wordsmith it’s quite obvious that the word rejection and the word injection are the same if you remove the first two letters, so next time you get a rejection take away the RE and add an IN, make it an injection of something; whether it’s a desire to polish your story further, whether it’s a sheer bloody minded belief that someone else will like your story so you send it somewhere else, or whether you channel your disappointment into firing your imagination to come up with a brand new story.

Oft times I find rejection prompts all three of those reactions in me, and I’m not sure this was always the case, but being a writer is often about evolution, not only in what we write and how we write, but also in how we react to what people feel about our work, whether that’s a positive or a negative.

In conclusion I’ll circle back to the use of my boxing metaphor once more. In Rocky 3, Rocky was beaten by Clubber Lang, and in order to come back and reclaim his title he had to learn to fight a different way, knowing he couldn’t beat Clubber in a lengthy fight, he had to change his approach and beat him quickly. He took his defeat, his rejection, and turned it around, used it to inject something new into his technique.

Keep punching folks, and if they do knock you down, just make sure you get back up again before the count hits ten!

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I pity the fool that rejects my stories!

clipboard01My new novel Darker Times arose out of an idea I had a decade ago, an idea which eventually merged with another idea to become something very different, yet something that, in essence, was still the same idea I came up with ten years ago.

Bemoaning all the ideas we come up with but never get around to using is something a lot of writers, myself included, talk about, I’ve even seen some consider getting rid of old notebooks of ideas as they imagine they’re never going to use them, but I think Darker Times shows why this is never a good idea. Even fragments of ideas ‘you’re never going to use’ might find a home within a totally new story, a character you’d envisaged for a space opera set in the 25th Century might, with a bit of tinkering, make for an interesting 18th Century pirate (or vice versa).

Darker Times went from being a haunted house story to a post-apocalyptic melodrama, and yet in so many ways it’s still the damn same story!

Let’s start at the very beginning. The year was 2006 and I was on holiday with friends in Egypt. Along with two others I’d plumped for a hike up Mount Sinai, where Moses supposedly collected his stone tablets from God, to witness the sunrise. It was an amazing, if exceptionally tiring, experience, but before I climbed down the mountain, before I saw the sunrise, before I even climbed up the mountain, I came up with an idea.

We were picked up by a coach late at night and advised to try and get some sleep on the drive out to the mountains (because there sure as heck wouldn’t be time for sleep later). I can’t recall if I actually slept or not, I probably dozed at least in the darkened coach, but what I did do was daydream, and that daydream quickly evolved into a story idea that, by the time we reached our destination, had become fully formed, complete with initial sketches of the main characters.

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me atop the mountain with a head full of ideas!

The original story, if I’d written it (I started chapter one), would have been called Ten Photos of Coffin House, and would be a contemporary ghost story set in a small cottage near the tiny village of Blodwel Nave. Four people would visit the cottage for a holiday, but by the end of their stay three would be dead or missing and one would be so severally traumatised that they wouldn’t be able to tell what had happened, and so the only evidence of what had occurred would be ten photos taken on a disposable camera that was found at the scene.

The idea of the book was that an academic (or possibly some pulpish writer of mysteries) would contrive to fill in the blanks based on the photos, and myths and legends relating to the cottage.

I’m not sure it was an idea that could ever really work. The photo conceit seemed like a good idea at the time but I can’t see how it could have worked, outside of getting models to pose for ten photos that could be used as chapter headings. Similarly I might not have been a good enough writer at the time to make it work because the whole point was going to be that maybe there was a supernatural element involved, or maybe it was just that one of the groups went doolally. Nuance isn’t one of my strengths.

But what the initial idea did give me was four characters, most of whom had secrets, and in some instances actively loathed one another, trapped in a confined space.

Like I say, I worked on chapter one and then tossed the idea to one side.

51wpt1jhu1l-_sx331_bo1204203200_Flash forward a couple of years and the sadly now defunct American indie publisher Pill Hill Press issued a submission call for post-apocalyptic stories to be published in an anthology inspired by the supposed Mayan prophesy that the world would end in 2012. Given I’ve always had a thing for post-apocalyptic stories (“you don’t say” groaned everyone who knows me) I decided to submit a story. I wanted to come up with something slightly different from the more usual nuclear war/zombie apocalypse/pandemic/asteroid strike/alien invasion kinda thing. In the end I can’t remember quite where the notion originated from, but I decided to go with a future world where, for some unspecified reason, it had got suddenly dark one day and stayed dark.

41hb7ggl6jl-_sx322_bo1204203200_The story that arose was Stranger Times, featuring a mysterious stranger named, er, Stranger, who encounters a community of survivors on the Californian shore. It’s always been a favourite story of mine and I did like the universe, even so it wasn’t something I expected to return to—although as with many stories there was a recurring fantasy that it would be noticed by someone big in publishing who’d commission me to write a whole slew of Stranger novels and pay me millions for the privilege. I’m still dreaming obviously— but then a few years ago another Indie publisher, Fox Spirit, issued a submissions call for their Girl at the End of the World anthologies, and I duly obliged, writing Savage Times, which can be found in Girl at the End of the World volume 2. Savage Times featured a teenage girl surviving in darkened Nottingham.

For another open submission I then wrote Darker Silence (originally titled Silent Times before I decided I’d give all works in this universe the Darker prefix). Darker Silence follows the adventures of a deaf young man in France, and is currently unpublished. This year I’ve also written Darker Sins, a story set in Vegas at the start of the darkness, it’s also unpublished at the moment but…I’m getting ahead of myself.

After writing Savage Times and Darker Silence I decided I really ought to write a Darker novel. I considered several ideas before deciding that maybe it would be good to focus on how a small group of people dealt with the sudden darkness and impending collapse of civilisation.

Now if only I had a cast of characters and a remote location I could use…

Slightly embarrassing to admit that the lightbulb above my head didn’t immediately flare into life, but oh when it did! Suddenly everything slotted together as smoothly as it it’d been planned all along. I had four characters I knew inside out, they had secrets and animosities that would make being stuck in a confined space bad enough, even before you landed an apocalypse on top of this. If anything the darkness worked better as an antagonist than potential ghosts would have.

Of course some other things changed. Coffin House would have been an old property (all the better for ghosties and ghoulies) whereas the cottage in Darker Times became a much newer, prefabricated construction. The eventual fates of each character changed as well, so don’t take the above comment about three of them dying/disappearing and one going nuts as any kind of spoiler, that isn’t how Darker Times ends!

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Inexplicable Dolly pic!

But in so many ways if you strip away the veneer of Darker Times, there’s still a whole lot of Ten Photos of Coffin House underneath. So, the moral is, hoard your ideas, you never can tell when you might end up stitching a few rags of ideas together to make something stylish, just like Dolly Parton and her coat of many colours.

It’s true what they say about footballers, sometimes you have to play yourself back into form, and as a writer sometimes you have to write yourself back into the game.

I’d been suffering a mini crisis of confidence last week. I’d had a rejection and was also feeling a bit under the weather, in addition I was lacking in a project to get my teeth into (novel aside) and these elements were combining to sneak up on me and whisper: “Are you sure you haven’t reached the end of the line? Run out of enthusiasm, run out of ideas?” I’m sure most writers have had those thoughts from time to time.

Since that time I’ve begun working on two projects, one I’ve actually started writing, the other exists only in my head for the moment.

The project I’ve started work on was an idea I had for a submission window that closes in a few days, and actually I’m not convinced I’ll get it done in time. The idea has some merit, but I had to push myself to actually start work on it. Once I did it started to flow but I’m still not convinced it’s going to end up one of my better stories and I still have to force myself to get enthusiastic about it.

By contrast the project that, at the moment, only exists in my head is one that already feels ‘right’. I’m enthusiastic about it, and once I had the basic idea my mind started firing off in different directions, creating/rejecting plot permutations and character ideas until, quite quickly, I ended up with a fully realised story with engaging protagonists, an interesting setting, a beginning a middle and an end. Ok the protagonists still need names, and the middle section needs fleshing out, and of course I still need to actually write the thing, but still, I’m excited and enthused about it in a way I haven’t been about a story for a little while.

I think, for me, stories end up in one of four categories (there may be sub categories and there may be categories I haven’t considered yet, but for now we’ll go with this.)

• The ones that seem like a good idea but aren’t. Now I might decide they’re a bad idea before I type a single word, or they might be the kind of stories I only realise are a dead end after I’ve started. Trust me; walking away from a novel when you’ve already written 25,000 words is frustrating as hell.

• The story idea that’s good but is waiting for the right time. This has happened a few times, in fact the novel I’m currently started working on features four characters and substantial plot elements from an idea I originally conceived in 2006. The original idea was a haunted house story, whilst my novel falls more into the post-apocalyptic genre, so you can see that sometimes it isn’t just a case of timing, sometimes its waiting for the inspiration that takes an idea in a different direction.

• The ok story ideas. These are the ones that I don’t have great enthusiasm for, but which are decent enough ideas, and which, with a push, I’ll finish/submit.

• The ideas that grip me. These are the stories that HAVE to be told. The stories that either arrive fully formed, or quickly evolve into fully formed stories in my head, the ones I can’t wait to start on.

Now of course it doesn’t follow that an idea I’m enthusiastic about turns out to be a great story, sometimes this can blind you to a narrative’s flaws, and similarly a story you have to chisel out of solid rock with a toothpick might turn out to be a real gem and worth all the hard work.

All I know is it’s glad to be back in the game!

As I contemplate another short story rejection (oh woe is me!) I was prompted to put pen to pap…er, fingers to keys, in order to jot down what I think are the qualities a writer needs. Straight away I’d say that I don’t believe a writer needs all of the below, in fact given some of the poor novels I’ve read over the years you might not need very many of them at all, but some mixture is essential.

In no particular order:

• Dedication.
Writing is like work, it requires effort and it requires time, and it requires consistency. Any writing handbook will tell you to write every day, and it isn’t easy, especially not if writing is just a hobby and you have a job/children to juggle, but if you want to be a writer then you have to make time to write, and ideally you need to do this regularly. I try and write every day, sometimes it isn’t possible but, on the whole, unless I’m on holiday, it’s rare for more than two days to pass without me writing.

This dedication doesn’t just extend to sitting down every day and writing a new chapter of your novel for six months either, it’s the dedication to go back over what you’ve written, again and again, proof reading, correcting errors, rewriting huge chunks (something I freely admit I’ve never been very good at.)

For a long time this was the quality I lacked, the sheer gumption to actually make myself sit down and write. I’m glad I have that dedication now; I just wish it’d shown up sooner!

• Stubbornness.
You might get lucky. You might be one of those people like James Herbert who’s first novel, The Rats, was picked up by a publisher at the first time of asking, but the chances are you’re going to get rejections, a LOT of rejections and you’re going to have to cowboy up and take those on the chin. More than that you’re going to have to take those blows to the chin, and then stick your chin out for another go, and you’re going to have to keep doing this like the very epitome of a cantankerous old mule.

This very much links in with dedication, because it isn’t just about rejections, it’s about the other roadblocks you’ll find in your way, things in your work or personal life that make writing a struggle.

• Self-belief.
It’s easier to be stubborn if you believe you have a right to be, and to some extent you’ve got to believe in your own ability, because if you don’t think you’re a good writer, why should anyone else?

Without belief in your own ability those rejections will eventually knock you down, whittle away at your confidence until, one day, you put down your pen and never pick it up again except when you’re signing a birthday card.

• Self-awareness.
It’s somewhat counterintuitive when I’ve just told you to believe in yourself, but you’ve also got to be self-aware enough to criticise yourself as well. A lot of rejection will be generic, but some will come with criticism, hopefully constructive criticism, but nonetheless it will be negative, or at least will appear to be so. What you have to do is take it on board.

That doesn’t mean you have to accept every critique you get, try to please everyone and you’ll end up pleasing no one after all, but at least consider what you’ve been told. If its comments about your grammar, or the number of typos in your work, then you need to consider that maybe, just maybe, you need to proofread your manuscript a few more times before you send it off. If it’s that your dialogue seems rusty or your descriptions are overly flowery then see if you can’t improve those areas.

Don’t believe everything people say about your work (experienced publishers turned down Stephen King, JK Rowling and a host of others after all) but don’t discount the feedback you get either.

• Talent
It would be easy to say you either have this or you don’t, but I don’t think that’s quite the case. Work hard enough and practice enough and I firmly believe that most people could be at least workmanlike writers, and plenty of workmanlike writers sell stories.

Talent alone won’t get you published, but if your prose flows like a mountain stream and you can describe a filthy slum and still make it seem magical, then no doubt editors and agents are going to be predisposed to like you.

• Luck
This isn’t me being cynical, or blaming my lack of blockbuster success on nothing more than bad luck, but it has to be said that sometimes selling a story or getting published comes down to being in the right place at the right time…probably with the right idea.

The sad truth is, no matter how good a writer you are, chances are there are plenty of other people just as good or better, and sometimes the thing that makes one submission stand out amongst a slush pile full of them is probably something you couldn’t have envisaged in a million years.

How many conspiracy thrillers with religious overtones came out in the wake of The Da Vinci Code for instance? How many Dark Romance books in the wake of Twilight? I’ve seen plenty of books advertised as; ‘The next Hunger Games’, or ‘In the spirit of Harry Potter’, and I wonder just how many erotic books publishers had looked down their noses at suddenly became bankable once Fifty Shades of Grey took off?

Luck, don’t bank on it but don’t discount it. Sadly it isn’t something you can affect, well not unless you’re smart enough to realise that the next big thing is going to be books about talking cats from another planet two years in advance. I’ve copyrighted Moggies from Mars so don’t even think about it!

• Empathy
Can you imagine what it would be like to be a member of the opposite sex? To be someone of a different culture or ethnicity? To be a dog or a cat or, a cop, or a serial killer, or an alien warlord from the Gryxiantiply nebula?

Being able to write from the perspective of different people will help your writing stand out. Try and put yourself in their place. Sometimes this won’t be easy, it’s hard to imagine what it’s like to be a killer or a bigot, but if you can do it your characters will benefit and your story will benefit. Your heroes will be more than chisel jawed cardboard cut-outs and your villains will be more than Dick Dastardly clones. And the same is true whether you’re writing about a group of gay artists in Madrid or a group of mercenaries in the jungles of Burma.

• Imagination
Another quality that almost goes without saying, it’s hard to create a story without some degree of an active imagination, because you’ve got to imagine a scenario, create characters out of thin air, and then decide what will happen to them.

That said, imagination comes in varying forms. I’m what I once saw referred to as a space cadet, someone whose mind churns out ideas on a daily (sometimes hourly) basis. Writer’s block is something I’ve rarely had to deal with for long. The downside of course is that many of those ideas are plain shite (be self-aware, see!), but luckily some are good (Believe in yourself too!).

Your mind doesn’t need to work like this for you to be a success, in fact for a lot of years one of the things that stymied me when it came to writing was that every time I started on a story I thought of another one and all my enthusiasm for the original tale melted like snow in spring. There are plenty of hugely successful writers out there who go months or years between ideas that they deem worthy of writing, and plenty of successful books have been written that were derivative. As the saying goes, there are only so many basic stories in the world (The romance, the quest etc.). Look at Star Wars, the only really original element is that it’s in space. Take the X-Wing’s away and what you’re left with is a farm boy, a good wizard, an evil warlock, a princess and a pirate, and that’s a very old story.

So don’t worry if you don’t wake up every morning thinking “Werewolves on the Moon, of course!” but by the same token if you never, ever come up with ideas you might want to reconsider a career/hobby change—although there’s plenty of stream of consciousness work out there, poetry, surrealist writing etc. Plus of course there’s non-fiction. Maybe you’re not meant to write romantic epics, maybe you’re meant to write car repair manuals. Writing is writing…

• To be a reader.
One final thing. I think in order to be a writer you probably have to be a voracious reader. The fictional horror writer Garth Marenghi might claim to have written more books than he’s read, but I think on the whole those who write, must first read, especially in your chosen genre(s) but try and stretch yourself from time to time. You never know you might find something new to enjoy.

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I hope this post has been of some help. Now I’m going to stop writing about being a writer, and get back to my novel…you see I haven’t written any of that yet today!

 

Well 2014 is barely a week old and already it’s been quite a busy period on the writing front. So far I’ve submitted two short stories to anthologies, submitted a comic strip to 2000AD, and sent the opening three chapters of novel #4 off to two agents. Added to this I’ve started writing novel #5, and in the last few days have received a galley proof to check for an anthology coming out soon, and got a rejection through from Analog magazine in the US, meaning I need to find another potential new home for that story!

I’ll be sending off the opening few chapters to a couple more agents soon. The etiquette in such matters is a little vague, many agents don’t like you going down the multiple submission route , although I’ve seen a few that say they understand why a writer would. The trouble is an agent can take anything up to three months to get back to you as to whether they want to see the full manuscript. Now bearing in mind I have a list of around 16 legit agents who take sci-fi/fantasy thrillers, and bearing in mind that it’s unlikely (unfortunately) that the first one I send it to will bite, and you can see how this can become a time consuming process, and also a dispiriting one, and it can be hard to motivate yourself to send you work off when you have to wait so long just to, probably, get bad news.

I can see it from the agents’ perspective, the last thing they want is for the next big thing to drop through their letter box only to discover 16 other agents have it as well and they’re either in a bidding war, or else someone else has already agreed to represent the author and they’ve wasted their time, but since, however confident I am about my talent as a writer, I can’t imagine 16 agents fighting over me any time soon, I’m going to maximise my chances and minimise my time by submitting to multiple agents.

However in an attempt not to completely take the piss, I’m limiting the number of active submissions at any one time to a maximum of four. When (if!!) I get a rejection I’ll fire off another one, but not before.

Things no one ever tells writers…there’s a bloody lot of admin!

I’ve been feeling a little down this week, and whilst I initially put it down to the cold dark nights drawing in I think there is another reason. You see I finished the first draft of novel #4 last Friday. I know, you’d think this would be a time for celebration, but oddly as I typed that last full stop horns didn’t blare, fireworks didn’t go off, and beautiful women in scanty costumes didn’t bring me a nice cold beer…

In fact I didn’t even have a beer in the fridge.

Finishing a book is a curious business. Whilst there is a case for using the example of a marathon as an allegory for writing a novel (both are a test of endurance, and for most people just finishing the darn thing is a huge achievement) there are differences.

There are no cheering crowds waiting for you when you cross the finishing line of a book, and no one rushes over to wrap a tinfoil blanket around your shoulders (although to be honest if they had that would have been quite scary.)

No, when you finish a book…well not much has actually changed, and yet everything has changed.

There’s the realisation that you’ve finished the story you’ve been working on for (insert number here) months, and you do wonder what they hell you’re going to do with your time now?

Of course what you’re going to do is go back and proofread/edit the whole darn thing, and try and get it in a fit state to start sending off to publishers and agents. And this raises another aspect. When you finish that first draft it becomes a lot more real. It’s no longer a bit of a fun you spend half an hour on a night, now it’s a complete entity, not quite the finished article of course, it needs polishing, it needs pruning, but you’re that much closer to the point of sending it off to people, and of having people (probably) reject it, unless you’re very, very lucky, very, very good, or both!

Having someone reject a short story you spent a few hours writing is one thing, having someone reject the novel you’ve spent over a year on is something else entirely. But you have to go through it, if only because you’ve poured all that time and effort in.

It’s a lonely life being a writer, and you can see why so many experience emotional problems, or have substance abuse issues, but perhaps the loneliest moment for a writer is that moment when the work is done, because there is that yawning gulf of “What now?”

Luckily it doesn’t last, and now I’m trying to juggle working on my second draft, with preparatory work for novel #5. And it’s nice to read through your story again, nice to go back and spend time with your characters when they were young and innocent, you know, before you put them through the wringer…

Hopefully Novel #4 will soon be in a fit state to start sending out, and then I can start the next marathon!

The third in my occasional series about things other writers do that get my back up!

Today: Speedy and lacklustre conclusions.

You know what it’s like, you’ve read through 400 pages of story, seen characters grow and evolve, seen them overcome (or not) obstacles in their way, but you’ve reached the finale, the final confrontation with the bad guy. Perhaps they’re going to go toe to toe at last with the supernatural forces that have plagued them throughout the book, or maybe the hero is about to declare his love for the heroine. Whatever it is, you’ve waited for this moment, waited to see how things all come together in the end, how the author will resolve all the issues…

And then within the space of a page he or she has their heroine hit the villain over the head with a plant pot, or the hero throws a bible and the seemingly indestructible vampire-Chihuahua barks its last and crumbles to dust.

And you’re left thinking; is that it? That was a bit easy, wasn’t it? I mean, why didn’t they try throwing a bible at the blood sucking miniature dog before?

As someone who’s close to finishing his fourth novel I can understand that there are two forces at work here. The first comes down to planning. Sometimes, however well mapped out your book is, you might not decide how it’s all going to end until… well until the end, but I’m still not convinced that you can’t take a little time to come up with something better than “And then he shot her. The end.”

The second factor relates to writing a novel being somewhat akin to running a marathon, only slightly less sweaty and if you need the loo you don’t have to pee in the street. Of course I’m sure there are some very sweaty authors out there who love nothing more than relieving themselves in the gutter, but I digress…writing a novel is usually a long process. Notwithstanding the Stephen Kings of this world who can reputedly knock out a book in three days (Running Man) for the most part writing a novel is a process that will take the average writer many months at least (My first novel took my 6 months, my second about a year, the third almost two years and I’m currently 14 months into the fourth) and like a marathon, for the most part it’s a matter of keeping your head down and keeping going, not thinking of the 25 miles or six months ahead, taking each step, each paragraph, at a time.

But in every marathon must come that moment when you enter the final straight, and can see the finishing line up ahead, and you’re so tired, so utterly weary, that all you want to do is reach that bloody finish line as fast as you can, break the tape and finally stop running, have someone wrap a silver blanket round you and sit down with a nice cup of tea!

And so you pick up the pace, despite everything that’s gone before, despite all your dedication and focus, you sprint the last hundred yards, and I think it’s the same for writers. However much you’ve enjoyed writing up to this point, however invested you are in your characters, by the time you can see the end is in sight you just want to get it over with, and, truth be told, you probably hate your novel a bit by this point.

Like I say I can understand it, and frankly with my current novel being so close to the end I can taste it (hmm, strawberries) it does make me want to just wrap things up!

I think writers do have an obligation to the readers though, to give them a satisfying conclusion. Of course it isn’t always possible, and sometimes you do have to go where the story leads, and of by the end of a book the reader might well be feeling like the author, however much they’ve enjoyed it they probably want it to end too, and a seventeen chapter finale where the hero defuses a nuclear bomb and wrestles a gorilla before finally having a swordfight with the villain on top of the London Eye might be just as annoying as a more truncated ending.

But still, if you can spend a chapter early on describing a car chase, is it too much to ask for more than a paragraph in conclusion?

Anyway, I must go now. Need to finish my novel…

…er…does anyone know how to defuse a nuclear bomb?