My Forty Fourth Week as a Budding Author
I’ve ended this week on the conclusion that I am incredibly jealous of William Shakespeare. This has nothing to do with his lover, Ann Hathaway, as evidenced by the drawing below. She’s no Clare Grogan is she? Wandering eyes, frowny chin and a man’s hooter.
It’s not linked to his prose either. I have no aspiration whatsoever to write fiction when there is so much surrealism evident in the real world. A number of my friends have decided to celebrate November by calling it “Movember”, growing facial bumfluff and then begging for coinage in return. The Elizabethans would have been mystified, as their queen did it for free.
No. The jealously stems from his work environment when compared to that which I find myself within. The post noughties is simply not conducive to uninterrupted writing and I’d like to be transported back to the sixteenth century please! to enable me to finish this book.
The week started reasonably well, by beginning with a Monday but it didn’t last when my complex authoring and graphics production computer system had a bit of a spew. I’ll not bore you with the detail but simply leave you with the immediate outcome which was me holding my head in my hands and repeating the phrase “Oh f**king hell why me?”. I stood to lose months of work if I wasn’t careful and an extended period of flicking the “v”’s at the screen hadn’t seemed to work.
Shakespeare’s scrolls never “crashed” did they? He didn’t take quill to paper and find that the only thing he could write was “Failed system dependency 44”. Oh no, life was easy for him, he simply sat there and merrily copied Francis Bacon’s homework into his own little book.
So I parked this problem, saved for a moment when I was feeling more sane, and opened the word processor. Time for a few hours of increasing the word count which would have happened if only I’d had the sense to shut down my email.
“Subject: Dave’s Tax Return”
This year I’d made the huge mistake of abdicating the completion of my tax return to an accountant. A mistake that I will never make again. Wikipedia states that an accountant is defined thus:-
“practitioner of accountancy, which is the measurement, disclosure or provision of assurance about financial information that helps managers, investors, tax authorities and others make decisions about allocating resources.”
I would like to propose that the definition is refined further:-
“one whose single role is to reduce their client’s fiscal wealth by simply asking the same question in different guises whilst charging huge amounts by the hour and using a computer programme to do the real work in seconds”
The received email was the final straw in a process that has taken three months. Yet more questions that could have been answered from the information I’d supplied and yet more reasons why my return was “taking longer than anticipated” and “costing more than Greece”. I properly lost it and redirected all of my creative effort into the response to my accountant’s boss. No doubt reading all of it will be added to my bill.
And here’s another area where our Will had it easy. Elizabethan tax was dead simple. The Queen’s men turned up at your door and pointed a sword at your chest. You simply handed over Dubloons until the sword was lowered and they went away. Five minutes effort and then back to copying.
Next, the shed began to collapse. Ok, I admit that is a slight exaggeration, but the blind above the door fell down (I’d put this up) and the halogen bulbs all decided that they’d had enough and committed suicide in unison. I was trying to ignore all of these events and concentrate on writing, when the phone rang with an offer of work. It was too good to turn away as the job description went like this:-
“Travel on train to London and attend project meeting”
“Nod sagely at key points, stroke chin, occasionally ask for clarification”
“Go for boat ride after meeting, give opinions, sing sea shanties”
Honestly, that was it. If you don’t believe me, here is a picture taken in a canal tunnel near Camden lock. I don’t mind admitting to a small portion of fear having entered that tunnel. This is what snakes must feel like when they are being born. It went on forever, was very dark and there was nowhere to get off. I had a concern that I hadn’t stroked my chin enough and that my customer had found a strategic place to bump me off. Luckily he needed someone to open the lock gate on the other side hence I survived.
Now surely I had one up on Elizabethan Bill after this little jolly. Actually, no. The crux stems from the words: ”travel on train”. Trains weren’t invented in William’s era so his only option for London to Stratford was to hop on a coach. If he was feeling a bit brassic, he could go public and share the coach with others. Maybe they would all be coming home from work after a busy day.
Well lucky old Will, the mobile phone was not invented then. If his fellow passengers had felt the need to inform their spouses of their travel situation, they’d have had to get out a scroll, write it down and hand it to the coach driver for delivery at the same time as them. In modern times it is far more painful as I shared a carriage with a hundred iPhone users who were “JUST ON THE...HELLO..HELLO..SORRY WENT THROUGH A TUNNEL..I’M JUST ON THE TRAIN”.
Yes mate, she knows, you probably get the same f**king train every day. In fact you’ll see her in about 20 minutes and you could inform her in person of your mode of travel that evening. There is absolute no need to tell her, me and the other thirty iPhone users who are also “JUST ON THE TRAIN” as well.
Fortunately, there are exceptions. There’s the twenty people who have already informed their wife, mother, grandparents, lawyer and doctor that they are “JUST ON A TRAIN” and so have phoned the office. “JUST RINGING TO SEE HOW THINGS ARE GOING”. Well, I can tell you. Since you left things are going fine, everybody has got on with some work for once now that the loud mouthed pillock has sodded off out for the day and isn’t constantly pestering for updates.
I hate commuter trains with a vengeance. Why doesn’t anybody text? Why can’t they leave the office alone? Why can’t they carry deodorant and give themselves the odd sniff to see if the fact they’ve actually had to walk a few steps have made them go a bit ripe? Why can’t they eat sandwiches with their mouths closed? Why do I have to hear that as well? And finally did your company really fashion you with that laptop to play Minesweeper? Or did you lie to IT and pretend that you’d actually work on the train?
My resolve to not retreat back to commuter land has been seriously strengthened. It’s either the shed or the building site for me and I’m not very good with the hod so that narrows it down to the shed.
In Anthony and Cleopatra we find the quote:-
“O excellent! I love problems better than figs.”
Well William (or Frances if the conspiracy theories are right). I beg to differ. A properly ripe fig is a joy to behold and if they’d been substituted for this week’s problems I’d have a basket full instead. But I’ve struggled on. The IT issues are now fixed, the blind is back on the wall and I’m now quite good at typing in the dark. The IT issues were fixed by calmly stroking the computer and saying “there there” a lot..and completely reinstalling the development environment. The flea is in the accountant’s ear. I’ll hear back on Monday apparently. And finally I’ve actually written quite a lot of stuff, which is why this blog is late.
Once more unto the breach my friends as another week beckons. What bringeth the next one?
5th November 2011