Stop, Look, and Go


I should really stop doing this kind of thing.

I sit, this evening, looking at a labyrinthine to-do list I’ve somehow whittled down to a manageable number of things to tackle over the next month. There are eight projects. Not eight individual nuggets of finished work, but eight separate large things, each with dozens of individual steps to perform before they can be completed. There’s the often threatened and often delayed webcomic. There’s reviving V Love Movies, and starting a couple of other sites that I thought I’d tackle ‘next year’ …which I said last year.

I can and should be doing any one of these projects right now (the webcomic is six months late). Instead, I’m planning a novel.

(Correction. I’m writing a blogpost about planning a novel.)

In what I can only describe as the potent mixture of hubris & future-blindness that always fuels me kicking in, I asked a friend of mine what she wanted for her birthday, and when she said, “a book,” I didn’t consider that she meant that I could buy her a book, and immediately replied that of course I could write her a novel.

Yes. I’m that guy.

I’m also that guy who still thinks he can deliver, and wants to do it purely to see if he can. I have roughly two weeks to go before her birthday, which I can certainly envision filling up entirely with noodling about on pages, picking apart and shuffling around sentences as I have on umpteen writing projects over the last decade. But that would mean taking precious time away from my comprehensive site about Latvian pornography featuring monocles webcomic, and we can’t have that. So, a solution: a very formulaic novel written in as little time as possible.

I’ve already informed my intended victim–er, future birthday girl that the book she will receive is not going to be Literature (not that I could write that anyway). And there’s been an idea planted in my head from a few years ago, stemming from a heroic tale about Michael Moorcock writing books in 3 days flat or something, that I have not been able to shake. Hey, if I could write a book half as good as Moorcock in three years I would be pleased.

So with that in mind I’ve set out on writing this formula novel. The actual book itself, alas, will not be for public consumption, being that it is a birthday present for someone, and also because it’s going to be shit.

(Really, I probably won’t even spell-check the thing.)

But why, I hear you ask, am I telling you all this? Surely the thrilling details of me sitting down to write tens of thousands of words of crap for one person to skim through, get bored, and then forget about, are nothing to bother you with? And you would be right. I’m not going to make you read it. I’m not going to make me read it, for a while. But I suppose like yourself, I’ve always been curious about what it would be like to write a very formulaic novel in a short period of time. To pick up that rock and see what crawls out. To live to tell the tale.

And that, in essence, is what I’ll do. Succeed or fail, I will come back here when it’s done (or not done) and let you know what the experience was like. What I learned. What I should have known, including, possibly, “DO NOT PROMISE TO WRITE NOVELS FOR FRIENDS’ BIRTHDAYS.” And then we can get back to talking about monocles.


PS. I may post wordcounts & panicky musings as I go, on twitter, which you can see under the hashtag #FormulaNovel (and why aren’t you following @allVishal anyway, hmm? Do you not love me absolutely?)

(Don’t answer that.)


By Vishal

I design & create beautiful, useful, and not-so-useful things that delight.