Thursday, October 18, 2007

Can't think of an amusing way to misuse the name 'Hank'

Why can't the life of a writer be more like in Californication? I think I could just about bear the inner turmoil of Writer's Block if I had nubile Americans hurling themselves at me. I've never yet been punched during sex or done a vomiting Scientologist during a dinner party but hey, you never know.

No, mine has been a more mundane lifestyle these last few weeks. I spent three days in Wiltshire on a course, which was both interesting and mortally dangerous (ever tried running in fog? In the countryside? On roads with no lighting, no pavements and highly optimistic speed limits?); I got about three-quarters through Halo 3 (on Normal, before you ask, because I am too poor and too busy to throw myself straight into Legendary); I hoped for an election, just for something to do, and had my hopes dashed; I nodded sagely at the dumping of Menzies Campbell by the Lib Dems, noting the correlation with the version of UK political history I described in Living Things; I broke my 5K record, managing to get my mile pace under nine minutes for the first time ever (only to be met with scepticism from a friend who, despite being far more well-versed in the ways of sport than I - what with working for Five Live and all - couldn't understand why I am so far off the four-minute mile); I made a baby smile, or possibly grimace, it's hard to tell; and I finished the first editing pass on my latest book.

Speaking of this last, I am in a minor quandary as concerns titling the new novel. It's a short work, a little under 180 pages, a dark and horrifying tale of child abuse and its consequences, and went under the working title Doctor Orman's Guide To Monsters: this is too long for publication though so I've been trying to find a shorter one. For a couple of months the title has been Control, which is succinct, appropriate and easy to spell, but has been somewhat spoilt by the release of a film (a biopic of Ian Dury) of the same name. The subject matter is totally different, of course, but still... I want it to stand out.

A friend (a different one, and the owner of the aforementioned baby) suggested a title so very, very wrong - not to mention tabloid-baiting and potentially open to legal action - that I just can't use it, even if the very thought of it does send me into fits of guilty giggles. Titles are always hard. I am not one of those writers who can slap any old bundle of words on the front and be happy with it: the title is important, representative of the mood and tenor of a book, the overture. It should tell - or at any rate hint at - at least as much as the blurb on the back. The reader should be able to finish the book and put it on their shelf, glance at the title for the last time and nod to themselves, thinking yes, that's exactly what it was. That's what it was about.

Maybe I expect too much. Perfectionism is as much the curse of the writer as his defining characteristic. Anyway, I still have another editing pass to perform so there's some time to think about it yet - I've had an idea for a spinoff (a gift book, of all things - I'll explain another time) and there are a couple of extra dialogues I need to stick in, not to mention the whole rigmarole of a cover design... inspiration will hit sooner or later, I'm sure. Or maybe I'll stick with Control and try to stop overthinking this.

Yes, Hank has it easy. Worryingly, Duchovny's character reflects the protagonist from the book I'm working on now (The Writing Class, amnesiacs) - a writer, critically acclaimed, blocked, suffering from a poor film rendition of his most famous work - but Jack Mullion doesn't get nearly as much sex and lives just outside Clacton. Still, some things have universality among my kind. Both Jack and myself look exactly like David Duchovny, of course.

1 comment:

zclfn07 said...

I didn't mean it like that! I meant that I was thinking that maybe I would closer to your time, and damn I am not young anymore :)