The Great January of the Soul
Reader Comments (6)


See, I told you doing things all differently works.

Now all you have to discover is cake. Cinnamon swirls are particularly good. Oh hang on, maybe that only works for me.


You probably get asked this lots, and I know you said your publishers bug you, but how is the next book going? From your article I presume it's still research at the moment?

I'm glad you didn't stop writing.


I just about stop writing every day. (Thanks, though.)
Just between you and me (my editor doesn't read my blog, as far as I know, which normally kind of bugs me, you'd think he'd like reading me), I'm still on the cusp of giving it up. I started the year with the plan of working full-time (well, full-time writing for me = 3-5 hours/day) on the new book. And I have been working more days than not.

But I still can't shake the feeling - as per that earlier post - that I put 10 years of my life into writing and publishing, and got next to nothing out of it. Moreover, I'm just having real difficulty developing any interest in this new book. (Granted, I'm feeling very little interest for anything in life, lately - with the exception of my girlfriend, who is much better than I deserve, and who, not incidentally, just has these prodigal Michael Management skills.) Much moreover, I'm not really feeling like I can *write prose*, or at any rate write anything good. I don't know how much I want to, and I'm frankly not sure that I can.

On the pro- side, you know, I walk into Borders or Waterstone's or, on Sunday, Daunt Books (this famous Edwardian shop on Marylebone High St), and there are copies of both (well, 2 of 3) my books right on the shelves, or even on display tables, and I know that's a pretty damned rare and amazing thing - and one I would have killed for and swooned at not too long ago. Also, my editor has said that they're definitely putting out a paperback of PS in the summer, and they're timing it all to 'promote me as a writer', and it all seems like a lot of opportunity to just throw away. I think of all the years, all the thousands of hours, I worked on these books, when no one wanted to look at them. Now I've got guys waiting for them (to borrow a phrase from Joe Cabot of Reservoir Dogs), and it seems like I should be able to rouse myself. Also, there's still at least the outside chance of getting lucky and making something approaching a living, so I wouldn't have to go back and do this computer shit anymore, which would certainly increase my life expectancy. Finally, a small part of me does want to do this book as a tribute to the unbelievably amazing SOF guys who are out killing jihadis in a hot wadi all day and all night, on our behalf.

Also, finally, I really don't have anything else to do. (Well, except join the military and actually pitch in usefully myself, which I can tell you is looking much more appealing all the time.)

So I'm sort of doing two jobs at the same time. 0) Not research - I had more research to do, but it was never going to end, so I'm just on a continuing steady diet of special forces books in my spare time. 1) plotting, planning, and piecing together this story; and 2) trying to grind out some actual prose (for the earlier chapters where I more or less know what happens; after the gory sausage-making operation that was writing my first one, I swore I'd never again write a book where I didn't know what was going to happen). And I'm making fitful progress with 1, but with 2, the actual prose just isn't good - or certainly not the, you know, really tight grabby economical clever unusual stuff I've done before, and that's just depressing. And I can't even seem to get interested enough in it to fix it.

I know from experience that if you keep turning up and putting your ass in the chair, eventually the book will happen (or at least start happening). And I try to maintain faith that it will eventually be good, if it does. I also try to remember that, you know, on my worst day, on purpose, I couldn't write prose as turgid as most of these action/thriller writers who wallpaper the best-seller displays year in and out. And I'm hoping I'll develop some narrative rhythm, and a voice for this thing, and maybe some passion. It's really uphill, but at least for the moment I'm continuing to inch up the hill.

There are other things, but that's how the next book's "going".

Oh, there's also music, actually. I bought a new bass last year, and lately I've been playing a bit, for the first time in years, trying to get my chops back in shape. If being a literary rock star was a bust, perhaps literal rock star will do. (Stuff like this is surpisingly easy to find in London.) Also, it would be a change. I really don't know that I can keep doing the same things all the time.


Well, for someone who is ready to stop writing you have a lot to say. Maybe you could try writing non-fiction, just for a change? No don't do that, I'm waiting on your next book.

Go for it with the music! Why not? It's what I do for a living! (violin/cello/piano/guitar session musician)

Join the military? That's just daft.

Oh and your girlfriend is a very lucky girl (bah humbug)


It's a good thing for you there are other people daft enough to do it, oder Sie wurden Deutsch sprechen. Or wearing the veil. No offense.


Sorry, been very poorly so haven't been back to your site for a while.


I guess I'll just have to be happy with being the kind of person that infuriates you (probably).

Maybe if I ever have a baby I'll get all worried about the state of the world, but I just think that my life is too short to upset myself with what a mess the world is in.

Although I have a bright outlook on my life I don't think I'm the sort of person whose opinions count for much when it comes to politics and war. The only people who want power aren't the ones who should wield it. War only destroys, though sometimes things need destroying. That pretty much sums me up. Bit too simple huh?

The thing about joining the army being daft is just my view, but then I'm the sort of person that couldn't shoot someone else. I think I'd just get shot because I couldn't bring myself to pull a trigger (I'd rather be the one to die, knowing that I wasn't the one that did the hurting bit.

Do you ever just go off and read something funny? Something that makes you laugh so much you end up crying and can't breath? I can't find enough of that sort of stuff, but when I do I cherish that warm buzz it gives me. Where do you get yours from?

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