How much has any one writer got to say? Depends on the writer, I guess. Leo Tolstoy, bibles of the stuff. P.G. Wodehouse, about one brief sentence if you boil it down, something along the lines of “Life’s A Laugh”, the counterpoint to Chandler’s marginally more ambitious “Life’s A Bummer, But Integrity Counts”.
This is heartening. It suggests having something to say is not necessarily the only ingredient of a good book. On the whole, it helps, but not always. There are lots of writers around who have lots to say and say it a lot and write lots of rubbish. Mein Kampf was nothing if not message heavy and it’s as dreary a read as one could want. Admittedly, Hitler was hardly ‘a writer’, but you see my point. How many times have you heard a writer warbling away on the radio or prattling on the TV, bought the book on the strength of the interesting ideas, only to find yourself nodding off after about three lines?
Jeannette has a theory that most writers have one great book in them and that the rest are just echoes of The Book, reiterating what it said and did ever more faintly until the reverb fades away altogether, the example she usually cites being Garcia Marquez’ One Hundred Years of Solitude. I don’t entirely agree with the theory, but I do find it mildly alarming. Given that I’ve published two novels, it would suggest I’ve already got one superfluous book under my belt and that I ought to call it a day forthwith. Or perhaps I’ve yet to write The Book.
All this comes to mind because the original purpose of these blogs was to try and drum up readers for my novels. As it happens, the way things are looking at present, I might be obliged to publish a few novels to drum up readers for the blog. But with my next novel not due out until January 2011, I’m wondering whether I haven’t begun the blog a tad too early. Do I really have enough things to say to keep me going for the next eighteen months or so?
So far, I’ve been knocking the blogs out in spare moments between writing another novel and proofing the next walking guide. Posted half-a-dozen, have another score or so lined up in draft form, and five pages of ideas, which would take me up to Spring of 2010 with weekly postings. Alternatively, I could get mean and just stick something up every month and that would take me through nicely to the big day -- that’s the publication of the novel in case you were wondering.
Ancillary to asking how much any one writer has to say is the question of just how much a reader wants to hear from any one writer. When I decided to write a blog, I knew nothing about the things, so I googled ‘blog frequency’, looking for advice about how often I should make a posting. I was horrified to discover that some people are blogging several times a day! That’s not blogging, that’s bloghorroea.
Hearing from even the most interesting writer in the world several times a day would get a bit wearisome after awhile. If, what’s more, the bugger was trying to sell me something (which is effectively what I’m doing here), they’d swiftly be classified with cold-callers and Jehovah’s Witnesses as the sort of pest best avoided by crawling around on the living room floor pretending you're not at home. I wouldn’t want to hear from the Lord God Almighty Himself several times a day. Quite apart from anything else, I don’t believe in Him and it would be a bit disturbing if He started talking to me.
Anyway, moderation in all things, as my Mum always says before tucking into another pot of double-Jersey cream. Weekly postings seemed reasonable to me, fortnightly are looking ever more sensible. Haven’t yet decided whether to be parsimonious or just go quiet for awhile, but in case everything becomes a bit more sporadic, here is a taster of some of what’s to come and has already been written, hoping this will keep you interested and perhaps persuade you to pass the word on.
Forthcoming attractions (in no particular order) . . .
Large & Hairy: walking into writing and vice versa.
Hidden Messages – or what I did and didn’t do down the brothel.
Walking in Mallorca: how to acquire abstruse substance abuse problems and other sundry addictions.
Burning Books - Me and Hitler
Digging down, building up: writing as sculpture.
Reading ISMs – my bumpkin bigotry: giving imbecilic grins and getting over prejudice.
Tea Towels & Talking Heads: Showing versus Telling.
Whizz! Bang! Ooooooooh! Writing fireworks.
‘Teasing teenage sluts’ – a poke in the eye for the pornophiles.
The dangers of derision. Who do we want to be rude about?
What a writer needs . . . apart from a pencil and a pad of paper.
Intercambio – living at the sharp end of the twentieth century.
Carnage and storytelling.
The Great Unpublished.
Happy Endings and how to depress a reader.
Becoming Sean Connery: intuited words and the mess they can get you into.
The Comforts of Estrangement: a writer’s place.
Sodding about in Sudan: the living that lead to the book.
Other stuff I’ve not yet thought of.
If any of that appeals, don’t hesitate to ask for an earlier posting – except, of course, for the other stuff I’ve not yet thought of. I’ll hold back on Sodding about in Sudan, too, since that’s planned for the weeks preceding the publication of Standing At The Crossroads. In the meantime, there’s a new story and a blog that has become an editorial (thanks to being chosen for the redroom homepage) in the articles section.
Causes Charles Davis Supports
Oxfam, Amnesty International, Greenpeace