Things have been a little quiet here at of late.

Being on vacation has something to do with that (:o) but also, the good news I guess, is that I’m half-way through a new novel. Tentatively titled ‘Escalation’

[though I know that my last novel, Family Rules, went through three titles before I arrived at that, so I wouldn’t hold any hope for the new one to appear under Escalation!]

the story took me completely by surprise. I’d started the year feeling a little lost because, for the first time in a long time, a creative venture wasn’t pushing to find release – I’d just published Family Rules and Garbled Glittering Glamours, a veritable buzz of activity which left me tired but fulfilled. I was filling my time looking at screen-writing techniques, movie structure, etc. Partly because I was bringing my first script, Team Building, to a finish, partly because Family Rules was entering process for a screenplay adaptation

[pre-emptive thanks here to Timmy Quinlan and James Patric Moran]

but mostly because when it comes to creative process I’m a learning monster! So, with my head full of acts, sequences, heroes and archetypes, when I caught a local news story in passing I was amazed at how quickly the skeleton of the new novel blossomed out. I’m about 45,000 words into Escalation at the moment and the writing is very enjoyable.

And yet.

And yet, I’m feeling… What is it?

Down? Sad? Demoralized? Melancholy?

A bit of all of those, I guess. But it’s darker and pulsing.

I write to be read. When I don’t receive feedback I very quickly fill the void with a story of “no-one’s reading” – I know this isn’t true but the written medium places distance between artist and audience.

It’s different to my other abiding creative route, music, where the act of playing, alone or with a band, is shared energetically with an audience – sometimes dancing, sometimes listening, sometimes talking throughout the whole show (:o) they’re at least living and breathing there with me – and changing something in my energy can cause a tangible change in the flow between us. Writing is solitary, I have to pre-empt that energy long, long before it’s going to happen.

We write for ourselves; to reinforce something in, and to, ourselves.

Of my published novels, two were written from a deeply intuitive place – Do Sparrows Eat Butterflies? and Family Rules – in the process of writing them, like the best songs I’ve written, I was only partially aware of what I was creating, flowing in and among the threads of the story, discovering the characters, events, and even unseen parts of myself. Karaoke Criminals, and now Escalation, are more structured, a conscious act of story-telling. This doesn’t make them lesser art, just a different experience. Reading my collected poetry of the past couple of years, Garbled Glittering Glamours, I’m able to remember times, places, and emotions that filled each of those writing moments.

I love writing. I love discovering the story as it threads its way through and around me.

But right now, I’m finding myself questioning whether anyone is reading. It’s a mixture of anger, resentment, sadness, frustration.

[none of it linked to money, sales, royalties or material success, aside from that they are indicators of the reading – we artists long ago gave away dreams of sustenance through art]

I write to be read.

And when I think no-one’s reading, it’s all too easy to fall down the rabbit hole. Particularly when that no-one is a friend.

I always buy CDs by friend’s bands, I always do whatever I can to encourage their process. I try to get to their gigs. I’d buy their book, if they were writing. I do it because I love them and love the fact that they’re doing what they can to make the world a better place.

But I know how many people have read my books.

And, but for a small number – you know who you are and have my complete, utter, and endless love – my friends don’t appear to be reciprocating.

Which is where the sadness comes from.

If you write, paint, sing or create in any media, you know how lonely it is; you know the vulnerability of the act. When a little voice whispers in your ear that even your friends don’t care to support you, it’s an awful, demoralizing vacuum in which to try to create.

[if you make music and have ever played to a near-empty room, take that feeling and multiply it by many, many, many times and you won’t even get close to writing when demoralized]

But create we do.

We will.

Or let me personalize that.

But create I do.

I will.

Because I can’t not do it.

And, my friends, would that you were as generous in your feedback as Lorain, who commented on Do Sparrows Eat Butterflies? I’m honoured and humbled by her gift to me. In the meantime, I’ll keep on doing good by you, I’ll keep encouraging you to be vulnerable and to make the world a better place. But I won’t be waiting for you to do the same for me.

And now, I guess, I’ll see how many of you have read this far.

Excuse my
It’s done
It’s over
I’m balancing
with hope
for my future
I’ll see you
on pages
and silicon
thank you
for reading
you have
my love

If you read, please let me know; writing is a lonely place, made better by even the shortest of visits.