The other day it occurred to me that I was blogging too much. I’m definitely spending too much time on the inter webs doing social networky. It has now spread to seven days a week and I have no life. Today, however, I finished a new book – a standalone thriller that I’m really hoping will bring me a bit more visibility. Okay, nobody gets tied up by an illiterate billionaire in it, but I’m proud that it sticks to its themes, and it all seems to hang together rather well.
So…I finished it, sent it off, wrote a couple of newspaper columns, sent those off, hoovered, and…erm, suddenly felt empty. I had finally caught up with everything. I’m done for the month. Okay, I’ve still to put the finishing touches on synopses for two more Bryant & May mysteries, but I don’t really have to do anything until August. And it feels so wrong.
I’m a worker insect, one of those bees that does the figure-eight to tell everyone else where the pollen is. I’m the one who gets swept out of the hive, dead, so that the really big fat successful bee can receive adulation. Words are not torn from my soul – I write quite quickly and don’t believe there’s any such thing as writer’s block, but I rarely write to commission and choose my own projects. The trouble is that the market is fairly stagnant and I write too much.
The 1970s were a vibrant time for British writers of the macabre. Peter Haining was gathering tales for volumes like ‘The Ghouls’ and ‘The Midnight People’, TV shows were scouring shelves for stories to film, movie novelizations were being commissioned, Fontana and Pan had annual collections of the best ghost and horror tales. Not any more.
We’re in a fallback mode now – this summer’s movies are dominated by sixty year-old comic franchises, some of which were old hat when I was small. What hope is there for fecund producers of new work? Many postwar authors wrote between 100 and 150 books. This is not at all an unusual figure for a life’s work. The problem is that publishers have no time to cultivate careers now; good sales have nothing at all to do with good writing.