Not so much a case of writer’s block, although that’s a part of it.
The thing is, the trilogy was written (I might say it wrote itself) in 2014-15 – before Brexit and Covid were in the language. I just sat down for eight months with no formal training beyond O-level English and found out what was going to happen next. Like practically all first novels it is very personal, doesn’t have a wide appeal and is certainly idiosyncratic, but a few people really loved it and that was encouragement enough to put it up, at very little expense, on Kindle.
Now five years later we have a country divided by Brexit and, yes, now we have a virus. It’s fun for me to see what I got right and what I got wrong. The only thing I got completely wrong about the virus was that I predicted that the networks would all shut down within weeks. On the contrary, we’re all going online even more than before and beyond the occasional glitch it all still works!
But anyway, I thought I’d leave the first edition up there just to ‘prove’ that it wasn’t informed by hindsight. But I do have it in mind to update it and tighten it up, take out the really quirky stuff and focus on the love story with the various emergencies as backdrop.
In the meantime got myself seriously tied up in knots dealing with people whose job it is to help me, at my own expense, to write a novel and it’s been both rough and paralysing. I’ve learned about the hero’s journey, the three-act graph, the mirror moment, saving the cat and a whole bunch of stuff that really I didn’t want to know. If you’re looking at a novel with a checklist in hand, that’s fine if you’re Stephen King because you’ve developed a genre and the formula works.
I also learned that the constant refrain to ‘never underestimate your reader’ didn’t work for me. The questions people raised, the wrong end of the stick being grabbed, the odd reactions from people that I thought were friends who clearly didn’t understand it at all – and the delighted reaction from some really unlikely sources including some who don’t know me. So all I can say is, if you don’t ‘get’ it, I’m not going to go to great lengths to spell it out – you’re not going to like it any better. Try reading Neal Stephenson and you’ll see what I mean.
I wanted to say some things that were important to me – in particular what it’s like to be weird, and the idea that the free public service (which I now discover is referred to in academic circles as Universal Basic Services) I’m convinced could be made to work in the right circumstances.
I’m going to try to get something out before December 31st. It will be much shorter – all in one volume – and the timeline will have changed a bit. And yes, the new version will be informed by the last four years, but only in the little details.
And ultimately, it’s really just for me. There’s no possibility of making any money out of it; the great thing about Amazon Kindle for me is that it doesn’t cost me anything to have it up there, and I get less than a quid when someone buys a copy.
Would be glad of comments, and will try to look in regularly. I’m not sure WordPress notifies me properly when someone posts a comment. So bear with me if it takes a while for me to respond.