If it be true that “everyone has one novel inside them”, I must have taken the quota for an entire postal district. Going through the memory banks I have brought to mind some of the aborted attempts at getting my name on the Waterstones bookshelves. Here’s what the Bestseller lists won’t be featuring anytime soon…
1) “Write about what you know…”
Get a group of lads forming a band at the height of Britpop, a group of girls hoping to win the prime-time “What It Takes” talent show, and with a bit of mild political satire the ingredients for an acceptable first-novel. In reality a dozen pages of rough drafting created a dozen characters who all sounded the same and no actual storyline.
2) “Write about something you don’t know…”
Take “Catcher In The Rye”, run over it with assumption and speed-reading, and…Get three or so scribbled pages on which there is nothing of much attention. I was young(er), there is that as an excuse…..
3) “It’s like Handmaid’s Tale but with blokes….”
So I borrowed far too much from Margaret Atwood (well, songwriters always get something in from a song they just heard on the radio…don’t they?). Despite my best efforts – “Sperm Bank Corporation”, “Bloke Farms”, that sort of thing – nothing, er, came.
4) “Dystopian futures, they’re popular…”
Drug taking, bored layabout northerner (I’m good at imagination) wakes up in Earth-like planet meeting strange people along the way. Twelve pages of drafting resulted in countless backstories, bad sex scenes, and a lead character who was essentially a Chinese Whispers version of me. Next!
5) “No, dystopian futures always work, try again…”
So in a Britain where homosexuality was never legalised…Twelve or so pages of drafting resulted in pretty much everything above, with the added secret ingredient of a lesbian who sounded like the most boring woman on Earth.
Essentially, I have more of the failed novels which everyone attempts to write at least once, all tucked away inside my head. It’s not as though every character killed along the way is still chunnering in my imagination craving atten….Wait, I have an idea……To the writing pad!