I got pretty drunk on New Year’s Eve, my first drink since Christmas Eve.
But as of 1st January, 2011, I am resolutely embarking on a new life, 100% free of booze.
As ever, I am not proud of my behaviour on New Year’s Eve. It started off innocently enough, at one of the Lakeside bar with two of my drinking buddies. I stuck to red wine but that didn’t stop me feeling pretty woozy a few hours later, especially as I had been drinking on an empty stomach.
Noo accompanied me to the bar but after a couple of hours watching me getting pissed with my mates, she was feeling pretty bored and decided to go to Pattaya and meet up with some friends for a few hours. So off she tooted on her motorcycle and left me to it.
I have only scant recollection of the next few hours but I did make it home, on foot, before midnight where I passed out on the sofa and ‘slept in’ the New Year. Although Noo won’t tell me exactly how I behaved and what I said to her, I can see from her mood and behaviour that I hadn’t exactly been full of love, joy and kindness. So yesterday morning, I expressed my deepest and profound apologies for whatever it is I may have said or done and I made a solemn vow to her never to touch another drop.
I think that in some perverse way, I knew that New Year’s Eve would be my ‘swansong’ as far as alcohol is concerned and it was probably this knowledge, as much as any other thoughts that caused me to drink myself into a stupor.
Of course, I suffered terribly all New Year’s Day, but now on January 2nd, I feel a lot better and am fully resolved to change my life around. January 1st is such a convenient day from which to begin a life of abstinence and it will take much to move me from my resolve. This decision has been in the making for some while now and in spite of my admitted bad lapses, for the most part I have been sober for well over two months. For those AA watchers amongst my readers, I will also confirm that it is my intention to regularly attend AA meetings as I know that I cannot do this on my own.
I have made a start on my novel and it has created a bit of a quandary for me. I had embarked upon what I thought would be a good structure only to find that I immediately went off on a long tangent which I hadn’t really intended or planned.
I need to explain that I embark upon my creative writing with the absolute minimum of pre-planning and plot structure. I know in advance the general direction in which I wish the chapter to progress and I have a reasonable idea in my mind of the characters I am writing about. But beyond this, I allow my writing to flow, creating as I write, filling in the details as I go. I do not plan out future chapters at all – I do that as I go along, chapter after chapter so although I have a vague idea of where I want to end up, the bits in between are a huge blank. I may even change my direction several times as I write and the end of the story may go through several incarnations before I arrive at the final version.
I write in this manner for two reasons. The first is because I am lazy and impatient and don’t wish to spend hours, days or even weeks, putting together the detailed structure of a story. The second is because I feel I do my best work when I let my fingers and brain tell the story as it happens – writing down exactly what jumps into my head as I type, with as little pre-planning as possible.
I have no idea if other writers adopt this practice, or whether the end result is better or worse than it would have been with more detailed planning. But that is the way I write and at 64 years of age I don’t think I am going to change.
Naturally, my first drafts are subject to proof reading and editing. Sometimes the manuscript just needs a little tidying – correcting the grammar, spelling, phrasing and so on; on other occasions I may re-write what I have written as I am not happy with it, or on yet other occasions I may substantially expand or change that part of the story.
So when I started this new novel, it was in my mind to write no more than 2,000 words on the opening ‘tract’ – the point where I will insert three asterisks under the text to signify a slight time break or change of scene or character in the story. In the event it has turned into 6,000 words and it is still incomplete. I am disturbed by this as it is not the direction I wanted the first chapter to go, but after discussing my dilemma with a good friend I have decided to leave it as is for the time being. My friend has suggested that I should just leave it all there for now and if the first draft of my book ends up at two hundred thousand words or more, then so be it. It can always be edited down to an acceptable size at a later date.
I have decided to take his advice and I am telling you all this because I have also decided to publish the first, rough drafts of my novel in my daily blogs. They will have already undergone a certain degree of editing and proof reading but even if I feel that that at some point the chapters will certainly need to be re-edited, cut or re-written, I will still publish my first ‘uncut’ raw edition here, as I go along.
It may turn out to be an interesting exercise. As ever, I will welcome comments and criticism and it could well be that my novel will be all the better for having the views of my readers incorporated into the final version.
All being well, the first part of my first chapter will be included into tomorrow’s blog.
But for now, just another ‘thank you’ to those who were kind enough to wish me a Happy New year, all of whose good wishes I naturally reciprocate – including ‘ass snot’ – you crafty bugger!