Friday, 22 January 2010

Nick Griffiths' Blog

In the new selection will be Nick Griffiths' novel In the Footsteps of Harrison Dextrose, published by Legend Press in 2008.

Also author of Dalek I loved You (Orion), this book is a satire against the backdrop of innumerable travel books.
As a journalist since the late 80s, I started writing a novel to test the limits of my comedy writing. It turned out to be a long test. In the Footsteps of Harrison Dextrose took a dozen years to complete – more off than on, I’m relieved to report – and I’m currently trying to write the sequel in a shorter time. A far shorter time.
This opening line:

It was my 18th birthday when I chanced upon Harrison Dextrose’s The Lost Incompetent: a Bible for the Inept Traveller, little knowing that it would one day lead me to kill a man with a dead penguin.

It only occurred to me eight years after I had started writing the thing.

What I had forgotten, and I imagine childbirth is similar – do your worst, Mumsnet – is how bloody difficult it is to write a novel, and a comedy novel in particular. Every single word has to count: to further the plot, to colour a scene, to raise a laugh. (There were 86,000 of them in ItFoHD.) Yesterday I was up at 2am, trying not to poison a shaman while accidentally killing a tribal leader and somehow stealing a ventriloquist’s dummy – a scenario that has been turning my brain inside out for the past couple of weeks. But I nailed it finally and lay awake for another hour, gibbering quietly, so overloaded were my thoughts. Today I feel like a golem being quietly pelted with snowballs.

Is it fun? No! Every morning I sit at my Mac with The Fear, seeking distractions to put off the dreaded moment when I commit words to novel. Once I start, the excitement builds and I wonder why I prevaricated. Is it fulfilling? And how. Slowly but surely, Looking for Mrs Dextrose lives, as the characters from that first book continue their adventures. I know their fates, their touching, sometimes dark, sometimes funny life-changing moments. I just need to stop writing this.


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