"Who in their right mind wouldn't want to read a book by Mark Barry!" (Mary Quallo, St Louis)

"Who in their right mind wouldn't want to read a book by Mark Barry!"  (Mary Quallo, St Louis)
Coming next week - Carla Eatherington

Monday, 4 June 2012

The Illustrated Woman

I'm not in the slightest bit bothered about Euro 2012.

I've become estranged from the England team (and from football in general, save the mighty Magpies, which is a family thing nowadays), for all the reasons that one becomes estranged from something. 

We've grown apart. We don't understand each other. The passion has gone. I don't fancy England anymore. Besides, I don't like any of the players and there is the far deeper meaning of following a national team to consider.

In a country where the richest one percent of people earn ninety percent of all the wealth, public school educated City bankers earn million pound bonuses, and disabled housing benefit claimants lose ten percent of their entitlement each year that passes, it's hard to invest much enthusiasm in the cross of St George.

I'll probably watch the games. I'm as hypocritical as the next person, but I'm not making it a priority. 

Allied to this, I'm itching to write something. 

I've not written anything in two weeks. Not a word. That's too long. 

So I'm going to start GW6 with an end date of the Euro Final. 1 July.  

That's 28 days. 

Deduct five days for Royal Ascot (the horses not the hats), that's 23 days. Take three days off for writer's block and sheer laziness, that's twenty days. 3,000 words a day and you have what Amazon class as a full novel.

The working title of the novel is called The Illustrated Woman. 

Nothing so far exists. There is a void in front of me. I am sitting here with a blank canvas and a notebook, (though sadly, without a bottle of whiskey and forty Benson and Hedges), and tonight, after I visit Johnny Rotten, and with the help of Doctor Wicked, I'll write the first 3,000 words.

I'll record progress on here. Throw in notable paragraphs and talk about how I feel. Throw in some conjecture and agonies, plot inconsistencies and change of plan. Keep you posted.

If anyone fancies writing a book - and why not! - this might give some insight into how one person does it. (I don't understand how people can spend two years on a book. I get bored after a month. ADHD!)

The working plot (which can change big time, so don't hang your coat on the hook), is this.

The story takes place in the present tense and in June 2012. First person narrative from the point of view of the title character. It's a love story.

Emily is a twenty six year old unemployed lone parent living in a two bedroom flat on an estate in Bilborough. Her daughter is seven. All the story takes place in daylight while her daughter is at school, (Unemployed people live their lives in daylight.) 

Once a promising Cellist from a prosperous middle class Wollaton family, she dropped out of school after a disastrous first relationship with an amoral, predatory older man and a sneaky shoulder tattoo which angered her parents. They no longer speak and Emily is alone.

Every week, she charts her life through a developing tapestry of tattoos which cover the left half of her body, from a runic inscription on her foot, all the way to a single tear under her eye.

One half of her body is ice cream white, the other is covered with some of the most ornate tattoos you can imagine. 

In a health centre, she meets and falls in love with a depressed older man who suffers clinical interview anxiety and agoraphobia.

In a world where buses come two at once, she subsequently falls for his friend, a handsome young firebrand, a tall, brilliant, History graduate who, no matter how hard he tries, cannot get a job, even in a Poundshop. Thus, his bitterness transcends the feelings of all three of them. 

The two men spend their lives exchanging prescription drugs, betting on racehorses in town centre bookies, and sitting on park benches in the Arboretum, drinking Thor's Hammer cider and discussing alternative history. 

Emily is beautiful, corrupted, decadent, lost and fatally alluring to both men and each respond to her in different ways. As with all triangles like this, the story ends in a tragedy that affects everyone around them.

The story takes place against a backdrop of decay, broken dreams, mass unemployment, sexual and economic inequality, exploitation, personal despair, Prozac politics, benefit cuts, Tory triumphalism, the Great Olympic Robbery, cynicism, a country obsessed with celebrity, and the coming end of days. 

I already know the climax and I'll probably write backwards. Be nice if you could join me. It gets lonely up here in Southwell! Wish me luck.

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