Last year, I wrote on here about the importance of the second novel, because I’d heard that the best thing you can do to support the book you’ve written is to produce another one. Critical mass really helps create a presence in readers’ if not retailers’ minds.
So, I duly set about starting another novel that was unconnected to Ready to Love but which I hoped would be enjoyed by its readers (and win new readers, too). At the end of the year, I hadn’t amassed a lot of pages but wasn’t overly concerned.
(This blog is very useful to committing to resolutions as well as remember intentions.)
I’ve now decided that the new book needs to be more than a ‘second novel’ (for which read: ‘another novel’) so it’s gone on the backburner.
I’d also begun thinking about other kinds of writing. In my scrapbook of author interviews, culled from years of combing weekend papers for insights into how other writers operate, I inspired by Armistead Maupin’s account of how his Tales of the City sequence began life in newspaper columns, which he then cut out and pieced together into a narrative. The idea of making a book in that way resonated with me.
I’d also read my friend Will Eaves’ latest books, The Absent Therapist and The Inevitable Giftshop. Both comprise short pieces – some fiction, some memoir – as well as poems. You can dip in and out of them but they succeed as whole works. (They’re published by CB Editions, which you can visit here.)
I’d also been following Roddy Doyle’s Facebook episodes, set in real time, in which two men discuss the week’s events over a drink in a pub, which were then collected into two slim volumes, Two Pints and Two More Pints.
Alongside this, I’d been exploring the world of social media and blogs – not just my own – and really thinking about world lengths and form. I began experimenting with 1,000 words and found I really enjoyed the length. It felt natural to me.
So I began wondering about writing my own serial, for readers of Ready to Love. I pitched it to the Nina at the online magazine Londnr whom I met last summer one of their terrific writers’ events. We talked about the possibilities, I made a pitch, we discussed it, and I started writing and we edited them. And here we are, launching today, with the first of four pieces which introduce my main characters. From next Monday, there will be a weekly piece which will chronicle their lives as well as the life of London, their city and mine, around them.
Some elements I’m planning but others will fall into my lap – I hope – because I’ll be writing on the hoof, just a few days before publication. I don’t know how long the series will last or where it will go, but I’m really looking forward to writing it. And I hope also to reassemble the pieces and put them together again to make something new all over again. That seems like a good way to be writing in 2017.
Hope you enjoy the first episode of ‘London Faces’ …