Starting From Scratch
Not content with having four new books out in September (‘Bryant & May: The Memory Of Blood’, ‘Red Gloves’ Vols 1 & 2 and ‘Hell Train’), I now find myself working on three more.
The only downside is that each has to be sold, virtually from scratch – but perhaps that’s the way it should be with the arts. Why should we automatically get approval just because we had success before? Well, experience should count for something rather than the simple thrill of the new, but I’m happy with that. But as I get more experienced, I get more selective about what I absorb. Recently I wrote this opening paragraph in my column for ‘Black Static’ magazine.
‘Everything that other people find enjoyable, I seem to find awful. No, beyond awful. Unwatchable, unreadable, uninvolving, stupid beyond belief. I’m talking largely about the mainstream – popular TV, films and books. Talking animal movies, Will Ferrell, Michael McIntyre, Chris Moyles, Jeremy Clarkson, Cheryl and Martina Cole, Dan Brown, the sheer abundance of mediocrity is staggering.
And of course I realise how pompous this makes me sound just writing it. But I’ve always been more interested in the edges than the whole, and I realize that the taste of the majority is not my own.’
Without wishing to bite the hand that feeds me (not much, admittedly) I could point the finger of blame at commissioners who follow the narrow line of their personal taste and are really more interested about getting an office with a window than they are about good art or writing, or anything original and innovative. I wanted to quote John Cleese in his Monty Python architect sketch, when he delivers an abattoir instead of a block of flats and his clients complain. ‘Well’ he says, ‘that’s the kind of blinkered philistine pig-ignorance I expect from you non-creative garbage.’
But of course the commissioners are often struggling to do (and keep) their jobs too. The difference for most writers is that we complete our projects alone and unaided without a commission or a client, in the hope that we’ve made something we can find a way to sell.
So, for me, a new season begins with a blank screen and a head full of ideas I’m sure no-one will be interested in. Stepping out onto this particular diving board when you can’t see the pool is the most exhilarating feeling in the world.