I like the smell of stuff. Sometimes it’s a good smell; like fresh bread, or the vaginal arousal of a woman. Sometimes it’s a bad smell; like mouldy bread, or the vaginal arousal of a woman from Dagenham. Either way, smells are evocative, both beautifully and horribly so. When I run out of ideas for writing, all it will take is a familiar scent and suddenly my creative juices are flowing once more. Much like the juices of that woman in Dagenham, except mine don’t smell like salmon yoghurt in a rusty Guinness keg.
If you want to create a universe out of nothing, you need to change your surroundings every once in a while. Go on a walk. I go on several walks a day, but those walks are useless, because it’s the same route every time, so my brain isn’t challenged and my thoughts remain unoriginal. By the way, if you’re American, that word is ‘route’; to rhyme with ‘boot’. Not ‘route’ to rhyme with ‘clout’. If you lot could actually pronounce the thing properly, you’d probably spell it ‘root’ anyway, and I guess you don’t pronounce it properly purely because you are constantly talking about ‘root canals’ and then people would be going to the town planner’s office instead of the dentist’s and there would be so much confusion that your economy would collapse and everyone would blame it on your having a ‘black president’, who is actually half white (it’s the white bit of him that sends drones to bomb schools and hospitals and whatnot, by the way; that’s what I tell myself when I have trouble sleeping). But, I digress…
I don’t create universes out of nothing; no real writer does. Even science fiction has its base in science fact- well, the good science fiction, anyway. Not the stuff you lot write. Fantasy might be set in made-up countries and feature fantastical creatures, but the characters and events still have to be relate-able, so you base them on actual people you’ve met, or on things which have actually happened. Sometimes, you can base events on things which have not happened to you, but you wish had happened to you. This is also okay; look how plausible the events and characters are in Fifty Shades of Grey, for example. That whole thing could totally have happened; for reals.
If you want to write something believable, and you’ve not been writing long, they tell you to ‘write what you know’. This is why my first novel was set in Ireland (I’ve lived there) in 1989 (I remember 1989) and featured an eleven year old boy having his first fumbling sexual encounters (I have fucked so many eleven year old boys that I’ve literally lost count how many there were. But I’d guess seventy four and a half, if pushed.) This is why Ricky Gervis wrote The Office about working in an office, Extras about working on film sets, and Life’s Too Short about how it’s really hilarious when people are born with physical deformities. Stick to what you know. His next project is just called ‘Karl Pilkington Is Funnier Than I Am. Fair Dues.’
The books I’m writing now are both fantasy tales of sorts; one is a dystopian thing set in the near future, featuring sixteen year olds who probably don’t have sex, and a world where most of the people are dead. Easy for me of course, because I live in Grays, I wish everyone was dead, and sixteen year olds frequently refuse to have sex with me. The other is pornographic account of a businesswoman who finds herself corrupted by a man she meets on the internet, and probably ends up getting anally violated in the toilet on a second-class train to Lowestoft. Again, I don’t have to dig too deep to find a comparative experience from my own life. I couldn’t walk for a week, and he never called me afterwards. Not even sure I put my number into his phone properly, as it’s difficult to use a keypad when your fingers are covered in blood and semen.
Anyway, that was today’s lesson. See you again soon, and Happy Smelling.
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