It’s time to get organised.

I’ve been thinking lately that it’s time to organised. It seems as if the more I have to do, the more time I spend planning, creating lists and making timetables when I should be getting on and doing stuff.

At the age of 55 I’ve lived through several organisational epochs:
  • Note books
  • T-Cards
  • Filofax systems (and all of the spin offs)
  • The Psion Organiser
  • Laptop programs
  • Phones, and those bloody apps  

The earliest I remember was a T card system in the office on wall mounted ladders. Small cards with hand written tasks or headings were moved from left to right, indicating the progress of a project. The cards also moved up and down the ladders, depending on the urgency of the task it represented. This system was very visual, but not easily portable and hard to share with anyone who was not stood in front of the wall.

At this time, the early 1980’s, few of us carried laptops and only the very rich or famous had a “car phone”. The touch screen devices, the ones we take for granted today, were a thing of the future. We were told technology would set us free, perhaps the opposite has been true. But this was the time of Maggie Thatcher, we’d won the Falkland’s war, she’d taken on and beaten the miners, the economy was booming and privatisation was rife. Greed was good, red braces were a must in the city and red Porsches crowded the carparks; and they had to be a 911 twin turbo, the one with the big spoiler and even bigger tyres.

Now roll forward to the end of the decade.

You’d not go out in public without your Filofax, it bulged with a diary, address pages, notes and other stuff. There were pockets for business cards and you could get a London A to Z to clip in. As hard copy diaries go they are still the most versatile product. Have a look at their website if you’d like to know more I still have my original ‘fax and refer back to it from time to time.

We don’t need to list the vast number of online organisers I’ve looked at over the years, and they have only got more complex and costly as they became phone and laptop compatible. None of them have saved me. I’m still late for appointments, I can’t find documents and often forget to buy milk. It seems that the more complex the system the more I felt it would “fix” me. I’d spend hours planning work which would only take minutes to do. Surely this is the tail wagging the dog!

The world in your pocket

Around 2008 I met the iPhone, it was love at first sight. It could do everything and it was shiny. I knew I just had to have one. I’d had an Ipod touch for a while and I could see maps, photos and my diary on it, as well as listening to music. If I had the iPhone I knew I’d have arrived. 

It turns out I was wrong, if i it’s time to organised, and I really want to get there (wherever there is) I needed an iPad, and then the latest iPhone and finally the apple watch. To synchronize it all, and make sure I could access everything from everywhere all the time, I needed a new MacBook – the Pro of course, and a new IMac on my desk too. You can’t appreciate the clarity of retina display until you see it BIG.

And I’m still late, I still loose stuff and I spend hours running updates, installing new software and thinking of even more complex passwords. On top of this I now have to have superfast broadband at home, you can’t keep on top of this stuff with good old fashioned copper cabling. The fibre comes straight to my desk and is a thick as a python, one who’s just swallowed a pig – warning, do not  Google this if you want to sleep tonight.

What’s the answer?

So if it’s time to organised, what’s the answer, where have I got to after three and a half decades of hunting the one true system? Is there anything which will make me properly organised? What are the seven habits of highly effective people that I’m missing out on, and can I really enjoy a full time income whilst working just a four hour week.

No. Well actually yes and no. Yes I can be organised but no I don’t need all this stuff around me. I’ve gone back to using a book.

There’s a picture of it here, and I use a pen to write in it too. In the interest of full disclosure I must admit to using the software Evernote as well, I use it for a lot of stuff, and I make appointments in the calendar on my phone. But it all starts with the book. 

I carry my A5 hard back note book around with me and jot things down in it. I’m old enough and far enough from fashion to be comfortable in a coat with big pockets, big enough for my book anyway. I might transfer ideas to Evernote, make an entry in my diary or even use a hand written muse as the basis of a short story, but it all starts with paper and a pen. We’ve been writing on paper since about six hundred years BC. We seem to have got the hang of it and I don’t think I need to reinvent the wheel right now.


Thanks for reading today’s blog – It’s time to get organised. if you’d like to see what I’ve been reading you can go here for a look. What I’m reading

To be a writer – must you be riddled with angst?

If the answer is yes then I’m an undiscovered and prolific writer. I worry about what I’m writing, what I’ve written and what I’m still to write. I will often put down a few hundred words, decide it’s rubbish and delete the lot. I’ll replace it with a similar slug of text which is often less good (and that’s being generous). I’ve had insufficient time to craft it,

I’ll try to avoid using phrases or descriptions included in my earlier draft. I’ll end up with something that’s different and equally unsatisfying to the version I had hours before. Eventually I’ll have a third, or forth, maybe  fifth attempt and realise that there was some merit in all of my earlier tries, I’ll pull them from the bin, delete the truly terrible bits and see if I can stitch a half decent story from the carcases.  This version truly is a monster, it’s a Frankenstein of a story, made up from the bits I’ve been able to salvage, but at least it’s somewhere to start. 

When I have a good monster, and it happens from time to time, I can begin to tidy it up. I’ll improve the stitching, we’ll move from one scene to another with seamless smoothness. Readers shouldn’t be able to tell that two sentences were plucked from versions with several iterations between. 

A little embellishment gives my creation it’s clothes. A character’s back story is explained, it helps the reader understand their motivation. We’ll see how person A is related to person B, why person C wants to kill them both, and how person D could be framed for the act. 

It takes hours, days, sometimes weeks, but eventually I’ll have something I can use. Either that or, and it happens more often than I like to admit, I dump it once and for all.

Such is the life of the writer. You spend hours creating something that nobody will ever read. It wasn’t quite right, not the right tone, not the right rhythm or not the right time for that text. The planets must be aligned before you release your monster into the world, once you’ve hit “publish” you’ll have very little control of it’s direction; and few opportunities for running repairs. There will always be the Beta versions out there somewhere, an early draft which highlights your inadequacy or lack of knowledge. 

So I polish, I refine and I rewrite. I take out any bits that may be offensive, delete sections which might drag me into court, anything that will slander or defame has to go. I check my facts and express them as clearly as possible. In short, I sterilise my beast. It started as something I’d be shy to put my name too, and now I’d let my maiden aunt read it; the one who didn’t become a nun, the life was too racy for her.

Anything else will never see the light of day, or not under my real name anyway.

The world according to Clement

I’m a curly coat retriever and I’m rather handsome. My name is Clement and this is me in my boat.

I’m four years old, which means I’m just coming into my prime. I have a curly coat but there’s no kind of “poo” in me. Mum’s a curly coat retriever and Dad’s a rather fine labrador. I choose to identify as a curly coat retriever.

I live with my pet humans, William and Liesl. He’s my favourite and he goes with me to most places. William is a writer. Liesl’s had a few owners. They’re normally quite young and don’t stick around for long. 

DJ is one she was with for a while. But he preferred their daughter, Robyn, and her husband Grant, so he moved in with them. DJ comes to see me often. He brings Robyn to play and she brings a baby human with her. I’ve looked at the boy, Elijah is his name, and I can’t see what all the fuss is about. He’ll be more interesting when he’s grown a bit but at the moment I’m reserving judgement.

Now is a good time to tell you about another character in the house. 

There is a young upstart who has recently moved in with us, he’s spending quite a lot of time with Liesl. His name is Nico. The wee loon thinks he’s cute and lets them make a fuss of him, that’s his way of training them to do what he wants. He talks a lot, and he has a whiny voice. He’s training them to open the door when he whinges. But if they don’t come running he punishes them by peeing on the floor, and then they have to clean it up. He think’s he’s special because he’s learning to be a guide for pets who have no sight. I suppose it’s very generous of him to give up his time to do this. I was going to do it too when I was his age, but I changed my mind and now have a new career with William. 

Today, Nico and I got William up at seven o’clock, he’d been very good and slept right through the night. We took him into the garden and let him pick up our poo as a treat for sleeping well. Most days we let him do this before breakfast. It was sunny in the morning so we went for a walk. William can be very needy and he gets easily distracted. Because of this I clip on a lead and make him hold the other end when we’re out. To make sure he’s doesn’t get board we let him choose the route, it gives him something to concentrate on.

Tomorrow I’ll be taking William to a place in Basildon where he goes most days. He has stuff to do with other pets. I have a bed there and I like to sleep for most of the day. Sometimes I take him out to get some fresh air, if he is good I’ll let him pick up more poo. A friend of mine goes there on most days too, his name is Morris and he’s got a pet called Chelsey. She and William are always very busy.

I’m overrun with things I want to write about

ancient text on stone

After a few days of no blogging I’m overrun with things I want to write about, and not sure where I should start. But today it’s going to be The Epic of Gilgamesh

Other topics which interest me at the moment, and this is in no particular order, include;

  • will anyone remember my work when I’m gone.
  • why writers are thought of as anti-social.
  • fact checking and who you can trust.
  • Why my head is like a box of bees.

So, like the Von Trapp family in the Sound of Music, 

Let’s start at the very beginning, A very good place to start…  

Writing stories is nothing new. Even though we spend hours each evening glued to our screens, more writing is published today than ever before. Tablets and E-readers have made it easy to consume the written word. Laptops, blogs, and publishing on the internet allows even the most mediocre author to find an audience. But for millennia before the invention of audio recording, the radio transmitter, or the internet, written stories were our most simple form of entertainment.

Once committed to paper, and assuming it is correctly preserved, a written story will last longer than its writer. The oldest surviving written story is an epic poem, The Epic of Gilgamesh, which dates back to more than two thousand years before Christ. 

It’s your basic story, The Gods are board so the Gods make a man. Enkigu, the man they made, is tamed when he sleeps with a prostitute. The upshot of Enkigu’s night with the lady, who’s virtues are negotiable, is not a case of the pox. He got lucky, but he has a vision which tells him to challenge the local king to a test of strength – Why, well that’s never explained. The king, a chap called Gilgamesh, who gives his name to the story, can see Ekigu’s a mountain of a man. He still takes him up on his challenge, and guess what, the part-man and part-god character wins – Hands up anyone who didn’t see that coming? 

They become friends and they go on a journey together. Their quest is to cut down a sacred tree. However, another God, one who wasn’t in on the whole “let’s make a man thing,” sends a bull to kill them because it’s her tree they’re off to cut down. The bull fails and is converted into a pot of beef bourguignon and about a tonne of prime cuts. The goddess, Ishtar is, quite rightly, a bit pissed about losing her prize bull – well you would be, wouldn’t you – and she talks the other gods into sentencing Enkidu to death. Now, we know that when you’re sentence to death by the gods there’s really only one way for the story to go, and spoiler alert, he dies – horribly.

Gilgamesh is tormented by the death of his friend. Who’s going to help him eat the rest of that bull to start with? They had no refrigeration, and it’s probably beginning to hum a bit. So he decides to take another long journey, it’s what they did back then, and this time he’s in search of the meaning of life, (the answer by the way is 42, if you don’t know why, then look it up in the hitchhiker’s guide to the galaxy, by Douglas Adams).

As the King reaches the end of his life, he comes to the conclusion that “the life which you look for, you will never find. For when the gods created man, they let death be his share, and control of his life they withheld in their hands.”

And that’s the epic of Gilgamesh in a nutshell. Mind you it go’s on a bit. There have been twelve clay tablets found so far, and we have no reason to think there isn’t more buried somewhere under the sand of Mesopotamia. If you’d like to read more, you can click on this link and have a look.  

So, if the oldest story can last four thousand years, then it’s fair to say that something I write today could still be around after I’m gone. I hope so, but I don’t expect to make it onto wickipedia, and it’s unlikely anything I’ve written will be searched for in the year 6019. The only person who might read my work will be one of my grandchildren on a wet Sunday afternoon. I like to think of them looking for clues in the text, something that will tell them where I stashed the family silver – but I’ve got bad news for them, there’s none left. It all went on fast women and slow horses (which is also the name of a Dr Feelgood album, released in 1982)

I was amazed and swelled up with pride when my daughter told me she’d found one of my mother’s books online. Mum, Margret Elizabeth Hadley, wrote two novels, A leaf in the wind, and the Passion Flower. They are both out of print now, but writing gave her great joy and the feeling of accomplishment when they were published stayed with her for weeks. Mum suffered from cancer for several years, she was often in pain yet seldom showed it. I think writing was one of the things that kept her going. That and the sparkling wit of her youngest son.

It was from her that I got my love of reading and You can see what I’ve been reading by clicking on this link. It’s not a comprehensive list of everything I’ve read recently but you might find few hours of escapism here. Sadly it doesn’t include The Epic of Gilgamesh.

A very sociable weekend

It’s Sunday afternoon and I’ve ignored the news and kept clear of current affairs programs on the TV.

Instead I’ve had a very sociable weekend. I’ve still downloaded the Times and read a few bits – I always read Melanie Reed’s spinal Column in the Saturday magazine. It’s been several years since her tragic riding accident and she has a great attitude to life. Giles Coren’s restaurant reviews have, from time to time, got him both verbally and physically attacked. He tells it how it and is highly entertaining.   

Robert Crampton is the beta male. He and I have so much in common that my wife sometimes asks if I ghost write his column –  for the purpose of clarity I want to point out that I have never met Robert, but I’d be very happy to do so, and that I do not, have not, and never expect to write his column.

On Friday we enjoyed a social evening at the sailing club, and that’s not as posh as it sounds. We gathered in our large wooden shed beside a rapidly drying ditch, sitting on old plastic garden chairs we picked from a variety of takeaway menus. Two of us were despatched to collect the meals from the Chinese/Fish & Chips/Pizza restaurants while the others arranged trestle tables and paper table cloths.

There was plenty to go around and several people took doggie bags home – there’s nothing like cold pizza dipped in sweet and sour sauce for breakfast. We have no alcohol licence so you have to bring your own drinks, everyone did and they were mostly soft. One of our member spoiled us with a home made pudding, a great big apple pie smothered in double cream. I could feel the arteries hardening and it was wonderful.

We chatted for a couple of hours about boats and families. Mostly we’ve known each other for so long that it’s one big extended family in all but name. Our wooden hut might not be the most celebrated clubhouse on the east coast, and I’m sure it’s never going to win any design award. But it’s the scene of some of the most memorable occasions of our thirty plus years in this town.

Fast-forward to 6am this morning and our annual breakfast race. The idea is that we have a silent start with no guns or hooters to disturb the neighbours. The Sailors are meant to “read” the flags and cross the start line accordingly.

We can ignore the race, I did as well as I ever do. Once everyone had finished, and the boats were out of the water, we settled down for a fabulous fried breakfast. Thanks must go to the members who cooked bacon, eggs, sausages and tomatoes on a Bar-b-que. Once again the trestle tables came out, we sat either side as they stretched down through the dingy park. Although it is September, the early morning sunshine was bright and warm, we feasted on a breakfast fit for a king.

And this is the point of today’s blog. Good food doesn’t need to be served on bone china plates in opulent surroundings and chased down with fine wines. If the right people get together over takeaway food or a Bar-b-que breakfast, eaten off plastic plates. In a wooden shed it can still feel special and create an atmosphere of joy filled thankfulness. We are drawing towards the end of our sailing calendar for 2019, there are maybe half a dozen races left. Our plans for 2020 will be constructed around social events like this as much as trophy races and personal handicap events. 

Thats all I have to say, I’m off for a bath with a good book . You can see what I’ve been reading by clicking on this link. It’s not a comprehensive list of everything I’ve read recently but you might find few hours of escapism here.

How would you explain it to a four year old

I’ve been thinking about how I’d explain the shenanigans in parliament to Clement. He is my sounding board, my go-to listener, my beta reader for everything. He’s only four years old but I don’t see that as an issue. He knows my opinion about those who represent us and it’s an advantage that he never repeats what I tell him. He won’t argue with me and never tells me I’m wrong.

Clement has his drawbacks, he’s a bit needy at times, he likes to have my full and undivided attention and really, really, want’s to be loved. He often twists around on the floor of the office, licking his balls and ensuring we all get an eye full. Well, he’s a Labrador, what do you expect?  You can meet Clement here.

I’m going to explain our current position like this – once I’ve got his attention with a biscuit.

You live in a house and it has a thatched roof. One of your children has convinced the other kids that it’s okay to set off a firework in the attic. Now the whole roof is on fire.

Your house was built over a fault line between two tectonic plates and the plates have started to move. That’s caused an earthquake and the cottage is unsafe. You need to get out and your family needs to get out. Everyone can see the building is falling down and leaving is the right thing to do.

However you are all crowded into the front hallway and have started to argue about whether you should wear a jumper or a zip-up cardigan. Still your house is falling down around your ears – and you don’t see it. You have focused on the details of one aspect and you’re blind to the bigger picture.

That’s how I see our government at the moment. They only talk about one thing – Brexit, while the rest of the county, our union of kingdoms, is collapsing. Scotland want to remain part of Europe. The population of Northern Ireland feel betrayed and abandoned. They’ve worked to overcome their troubled history and now people, money, and trade can move seamless between the six counties in the north and the republic in the south. All of a sudden they’ve become a bargaining chip in a game being played out hundreds of miles away.

Our infrastructure is creaking and the hospitals are at breaking point. We’re entering another winter with too few nurses, not enough beds and patients on trollies in every corridor. Police officers are leaving the service at an unprecedented rate due to disillusion and poor conditions. At school teachers strugle to teach unruly children and everyday they worry about getting knifed.

But all the politicians want to talk about, in soundbites for the ten o clock news, is a strategy for leaving the union of countries that have been our most valued trading partners for more than forty years. 

In the one thousand, one hundred and sixty eight days since the referendum we have become a lughing stock and the mother of all parliaments is now the butt of all jokes. We could have been trading, manufacturing and innovating. Instead we’re tearing ourselves apart, fathers against sons and neighbour against neighbour. There can be no “winners” because each day it goes on we all loose. This is an issue that will take a decade to sort out and a generation to accept. I hope it doesn’t become violent but I’m afraid that it will. Hot heads, fired up by windbags, will move the agenda forward – but at what cost?

It’s all too depressing to think about so I’m going back to a bit of reading and I’ll continue my own writing. You can see what I’ve been reading by clicking on this link. It’s not a comprehensive list of everything I’ve read recently but you might find few hours of escapism here.

Tumultuous times ahead

It’s a tumultuous time to be a writer. Everyone wants to write books that are of the moment, that is everyone who wants to write and who is not consumed by fantasy space travel, goblins and wizards or historical fiction. The rest of us, the ones who venture out of our bedrooms from time to time, don’t get too tongue tied when talking to a member of the opposite sex and avoid dusty libraries in case we catch rickets or scurvy from the ancient books there in, want to write about life today. 

But the problem with life today is that we don’t know what it is. Right now we are part of Europe, in a few weeks we may not be. For sure at some time in the not too distance future we will definitely be out, but what will out look like and who will take us there. It’s “the will of the people” I hear them say on the BBC and other news networks. But who’s will are we enacting. Back in the swirling mists of time, well 2016 anyway, the UK voted to leave the European Union by 51.89% for Leave to 48.11% for Remain, a margin of 3.78%, how many of leave voters are still alive and what  about the young people who have reached voting age since the referendum was counted. As younger voters tended towards staying in Europe while older voters generally chose to leave it’s a fair bet that the result would not be repeated.

So let’s have another vote I hear you cry. Well no. Because if it were to go the other way then it’s one all and the Leavers, who would now be the losers would cry foul. They had the original victory, it should stand. But the Remainers, the most recent winners, would say theirs was the victory of the moment and that should be recognised. Then there’s all those who really couldn’t give a toss any longer and just want it to be over. Who can predict which way they’ll cast their votes, and would it be the same as before? 

Maybe  we can have the best of three? Why not, when the world’s political discourse is reduced to seventeen second soundbites and repeating the same thing often enough makes it true then surly you can make up the rules as you go along. Dissenting voices are accused of spreading fake news, regardless of the facts, and it takes a young girl from Sweden to point out the Emperor is actually naked. 

So how do we write a book of the moment “when the times they are a changin” and changing oh so fast. I honestly don’t know, but I suspect that it’s one of the reasons that TV dramas and literary fiction remains so popular. We can immerse ourselves in stories, get lost in fantasy worlds, and identify with constructed characters. They are safe and comforting, even if the best books are dripping with blood and murderous intent (personal observation, that’s all) there’s nothing that can harm us when we invest a few hours in pure escapism.

So in the immortal words of the Captain from Hill Street Blues “Let’s be careful out there.” and be sure you dip back into the writing of your favourite author for a touch of escapism from time to time.

I have no deadlines.

As an independently publishing author I have no deadlines. There’s no publisher chasing me for a next draft, no agent asking for publicity information and no printer needed approved proofs send back. Decisions on timing are all mine, work is ready when it’s ready and I’ll upload it to Kindle when I’m happy with what I’ve done. 

Of course that means I am a master of procrastination. If I’m not in the mood to write or if there’s something more important to do and when isn’t there, I can spend hours, days even, not putting down a single usable word. This is not useful, and as my wife and bank statement keep telling me, it’s not revenue generating either. 

John Lennon got it right when he said “life is what happens when you’re busy making other plans.” Although he wasn’t the first to say it and the quote can be traced several decades further back than his Beautiful Boy song of 1980.

While I am having ideas for plots, thinking about characters and their relationships, actions and sometimes gruesome deaths (but not too gruesome as I have to get people to read this stuff) I also hold down a day job, have a loving family to maintain and need to spend time with my confidante and close friend, Clement. All this and blogging too – how will I manage.

The answer of course is time management and if I can manage to get out of bed in time to do some writing each day that would be a great help. Secondly a few self imposed deadlines which if I stick to will bring me a reward. Two hundred words, good ones that make sense in their context and content = coffee and a biscuit. Write my blog and post it, I can role around on the floor with Clement. A good chunk of editing is worth a couple of hours sailing in my dinghy and when I finally finish the book I’m going have a weekend away with my wife.

Small bites, that’s how you eat an elephant after all, and if I can take a few small bites each day then there will be less procrastination and more productivity, I’ll be happy, my family will see more of me and my bank manager will stop calling me in for increasing less social chats. 

How much of me is there in a character?

Do I base them on people I know?

walking away with style

The truth is that you have to start from somewhere and then build up. Very few characters come to an author fully formed and a writer blends together ideas to build a more real character.

Observing people and blending together traits of their personality gives me, as a writer, the material I need to create new and interesting characters. If I see someone on the street who has a distinctive walk I’ll try to describe it in words;

She rolled her hips as she walked along the pavement, a smooth action like the endless waves on a deep, wide ocean. 

I’ll make a note and perhaps add it to a character’s profile if it’s appropriate. But we must be careful not to give any one person too many eccentricities otherwise they will come across as unreal and far-fetched. 

This is not true if you’re witting a character with a collection of associated traits which together make him or her stand out. If for instance your character has Asperger’s syndrome then it would be acceptable to make them socially inept, they will a loner, not like crowds and not want to make eye contact when talking to people. If a character has a condition that makes them who they are it is important to give them the correct “tics and flics” and not to make light of the condition lest you offend those who in real life are affected. 

Generally I like to create characters in a database and know as much about them as I can. Name, Address, Age, Sex, all the basic stuff. Then I go deeper and add fields for hair colour, accent, smoker yes/no, drinker?, height and colour of eyes, even what car would they drive. By the time I’ve filled the twenty seven fields I will know them quite well; and I still don’t know what story they are going to be added to. I just like creating characters. 

If I place a character in a book I will fill in the rest of the fields. What do they do for a living, what is their relationship to other characters and how do they feel about what’s going on in the story. I have nearly fifty possible fields to fill and at the end I will know them better than I know members of my own family. 

But are they based on people I know? Well yes and no. Claudilia Belcher who is the main character in the Wimplebridge stories is a blend of a handful of people I know, mostly they are still living but one is tragically dead. Friends may recognise facets of themselves but not whole individuals.

            How much of me is there in a character. I said that I blend them together so there must be some of me in there. Their thoughts are my thoughts and their words are my words. May be a writer’s creations can say things the author could not get away with voicing himself. That’s a whole topic on its own and one for another day. 

where do you get your ideas from?

Today I am returning to a frequently asked questions, “where do you get your ideas from?” is something I can be sure I’ll be asked whenever I am talking about writing or the business of being an author. 

I’m a polite person, brought up by nice and loving parents who taught me right from wrong. And I know it’s wrong to grab the questioner by the throat, slap them around the head a few times, then get up really close and screaming “open your fu**ing eyes, you moron” 

Look around you and do it with an open mind. Observe your surroundings, the places and people. See how the crowds ebb and flow through a railway station, one way in the morning and the other later on. Have you ever noticed how young men walk with a swagger and how old women move with more care. Watch a group of drinkers going out after work and see how they greet each other, it’s very different from a parent and child no matter what their ages.  There’s inspiration poring forth from everywhere. It gushes like a fire hydrant, you just need to seewhat’s in front of you.

An example. Earlier this year I was traveling on the London Underground. It was a Saturday morning, around nine thirty. At that time of day during the week the tube would be packed with commuters going to work but on weekend it’s more relaxed and there were plenty of seats available.  Some people still chose to stand and it was one of these that I noticed was drinking from a can of beer, a bit early in the morning for me but he might have been coming home from a party or even just finished a night shift. In a city like London, one which never sleeps, there are plenty of people whose clock runs at a different time to yours or mine.

Anyway back to our underground train. Two or three stops after I noticed the young man drinking he got off, or I did, I don’t remember and it’s not important, but by then I had created a back story for him, a family and a job. He worked in a big building with lots of companies spread across many floors. His job was to maintain the infrastructure of the building, heat, light, air conditioning,  that sort of thing. He also ran the cardboard compactor and from time to time he’d abduct a homeless person and put them through the compactor, streaming it live on the dark web for strange people who got their thrills from that sort of thing. He was paid a lot of money by each viewer to let them watch, more if he could stage a particularly warped fantasy devised by a viewer who’d also come and see it happening live.

The story needs a lot of work and anything or everything could change but the fact is I’d got inspiration from just seeing a person on a train and wondering “what if…” You see there are no sacred cows, nothing is out of boundsand the only limited to what you can write is what you’re willing to put your name too.  

If we are surrounded by inspiration then we need a way to record it. That’s why I always carry a note book, it gets filled with jottings, some terrible drawings and maybe even snippets of overheard conversations but I’ve always got it to refer back to and use when I want to build a character or remember a scene.