Monday, 26 March 2012


In my country, I’m classed as an optimist.
   WRITER? MADE A WILL? IT ISN’T ENOUGH. Once more I run over the concept in my head. On the internet, typing in block capitals is considered SHOUTING. Leading me to conclude that using italic type is leaning into the wind, and underlining a word means I’m walking on a tightrope. Superscript denotes the use of uppers, subscript the ingestion of downers. Bold writing…I’m unsure. Perhaps the paint is just thicker there.
   I felt like a SHOUT. Of gloomy intent. I’ve become interconnected, and leaving important documents inside a fireproof safe is no longer enough. Images of actresses adorn the wallpaper on my computer’s desktop, reminding me that I take an interest in things beyond typing stories. I go off and watch stories, too.
   There is a rectangular black hole on that desktop where a photograph of an actress once resided. A flash of yellow invades the darkness. My gloomy beacon, my lighthouse of mortality. It signifies the end of all things.
   The canary colour belongs to a folder icon. In blogging it’s best to avoid using white type against a dark background for the main body text, though this design element works well in limited form – for titles and headers. I use white on black for titles and headers, not the main show. For I am human, have limits, and can only read white-on-black text for so long.
   This large black patch on the desktop is meant to be noticed. The yellow folder, with its white title, is also meant to be noticed – by anyone else. Some random person. Not by me. The great danger in life lies in being more organised than anyone else in your life.
   I am disorganised. With the best will in the world, I hope to avoid criticism of those close to me. Bless them, faults and all. Those faults make those people worth knowing. I am the most organised person out of the whole bunch. And must leave a signpost for chance.
   Chance is a fine and unfine thing. In the week that I published my third e-book, LYGHTNYNG STRYKES, I avoided becoming roadkill. Chance, infrequency of traffic, plays its part in that. I continue to avoid becoming roadkill, as that sounds like the best policy to me. Highlight of that week?
   I had a few highlights. The top spot goes to chance. I leave my office and head for the kitchen. Plan. Dump some rubbish. Go! Time spent on the act is short. I face the window for a few seconds. In that thin slice of my life, a massive magpie lands on a post. It gives a shake of the old wings, sorts itself out, then launches into the cold wet day.
   Not an earth-shattering event. I see this by chance. And it makes my whole week. I have that writerly mind, lodging the incident in the rusty memory banks. Might come in handy, one day. I return to the office, with its computer, computer display, desktop, desktop icons, and. My lighthouse of mortality.
   At the time of writing, in the year of the Maya calendar’s last gasp, my published work carries © protection lasting seventy years beyond my demise. Something I must prepare for. We pretend existence goes on for all time, but no one gets out alive.
   If I am killed unexpectedly by some drunk or undrunk driver, my blog will cease. Unless it’s been set to automatically publish while I’m on a holiday that results in my death. If I suddenly stop blogging unannounced, have I gone to join the Choir Invisible? Perhaps.
   Internet contacts will tentatively e-mail, noting that I’ve been quiet of late. How am I doing? Have I given any thought to the latest publishing news? Afraid to open the box, and discover whether or not this particular cat is still alive. Leading to the old joke.
   Is he dead?
   I hope so – they buried him.
   Though in my case, instead of burial, my ashes should be scattered where deranged and non-deranged devotees cannot find me. I long-ago concluded that my fate was to become a cult figure’s cult figure. Not guilty of crimes, war or otherwise, I’ll still be lumped in with those whose last known rest remains determinedly unknown. Barring accident, presumably somewhere in Sunny Scotland.
   (I’ve noted that writing on the internet cleanses my work of irony and filters sarcasm from the end-product. Using Twitter to describe LYGHTNYNG STRYKES as epic porn robbed the statement of all humour, and made the declaration seem as though brought down from a mountain on stone tablets. Which made the whole thing so much funnier – to me, if no one else.)
   If I am the most organised person out of the whole bunch, it falls to me to arrange a trail of breadcrumbs for distraught persons to follow. Dealing with death is not pleasant. Unknown contacts must be located.
   I speak, in general terms, of helping an author on the internet. What does that actually mean, to those I leave behind? Nothing much. That fellow-scribbler could have engaged in minor contact with me. Who to contact, with bad news?
   Multiple e-mail accounts and social networking appearances are phantom shapes in the misty terrain of my life. I must determine a list of business contacts worth bludgeoning with the grim knowledge. And I must place that list inside the fireproof safe.
   The list is of no immediate use there. It is useful to the one who has instructions to retrieve the fireproof safe from my abode, on being informed of my departure. So, for reasons of immediacy, the list of contacts must go inside an envelope left sitting prominently on an actual desktop.
   That information is repeated inside the electronic file folder glowering in the black space where an actress used to linger on my computer’s digital desktop. And the folder is marked IN THE EVENT OF MY DEATH. Same as the envelope, sitting on the black desk behind me.
   E-mail addresses, and what to say to those who should be informed. Not precisely. Loosely. I can’t very well be asked to note the nature of my own passing in advance. Not without ploughing a very deep furrow of morbid humour.
   Here lies RLL, telling lies about a demise that happened before or after sunrise. It was quick/slow, quick, quick, slow. Painless. Sudden. Agonising. Drawn-out. Delete as inapplicable. Died a hero. Wasn’t missed. Endured death by a thousand (and three point five) cuts. Didn’t feel a thing. Victim of a tragic sequence of outré events, considered funny under other circumstances.
   The legacy? Championed the words arcane, outré, #unhashtagging, and whom. Will be remembered for writing EPIC porn. Had no sense of internet humour, though was marginally funny in unreal life. Believed the best villains had a V or K lurking in their names. Remained hostile to the Net Book Agreement. Like Nelle Lee, praised the repeal of the Corn Laws. Until the last, held an irrational fear of irrational fear.
   The reality is that my death will be late in getting to those who should be told. It’ll run perfunctorily, with a slot in the subject line taken up by SAD NEWS. You were one of RLL’s business contacts, and it falls to me to note…
   Wisely, unwisely, I hold an empty view of my literary legacy. I consider my writing disposable. It is supposed to earn money to pay bills. If someone somewhere in the world gains a degree of entertainment from my writing, I’d say that’s good. Well, I would. Wouldn’t I?
   Will my writing change the world? No. Inspire other authors? Too soon to tell. I hold stern views on SOURCES OF INSPIRATION. If I inspire other authors, it’ll be nice of me to take the blame. I don’t think in terms of literary legacy. All writing is experiment, to me. I haven’t the time to plan a monument to myself. You’ll find me in the lab, not in a studio carving narcissism in marble.
   In the meantime, I’ll continue to dodge large white vans that appear from virtually nowhere. Recently, I tried one

Tried one what? I have no idea. The Man from Porlock haunts this blog. I speak of Sam Coleridge, composing poetry. (The blog entry on FREEFALL opened with a reference to Coleridge. Must be something in the air.)
   In Xanadu did Coleridge write. Until his epic poem was interrupted by a knock at the door. Enter Porlock Man, who engaged Coleridge in banter that has gone missing from the history books. The poem Kubla Khan ends with the milk of Paradise because Porlock Man broke Coleridge’s chain of thought.
   My blogging was interrupted by a telephone call from the Red Queen. She almost appears in Neon Gods Brought Down by Swords. If I’m not hit by a white van, she’ll feature in other stories. Though SOURCES OF INSPIRATION ARE MEANINGLESS, that particular source of inspiration is meaningful. I’m unexpectedly forced to blog about the Red Queen.
   Next time. For now, I am left wondering what I recently tried. I know I tried one. Something tells me I didn’t try two. Maybe I did. Who knows? Damn the Man from Porlock. Robbing us of the rest of that poem. Damn the Red Queen? Never. My writing has no lasting literary worth, and whatever I was about to say is lost, shot to hell, without a scrap of thought for its importance.
   The Red Queen works her magic, and all is right with the world. For the first time in my life, I speak about the unspeakable topic that I consider unleashing on my blog. She thinks everything will be fine. It’s a vote of confidence that tips the balance in favour of open discussion. Stay tuned.
   To end, I’d just like to add this. Recently, I tried one. Good job I wasn’t killed after writing that, as I haven’t left instructions for dealing with the rest of the sentence. I wonder what it was I tried. Can’t have been important. Unless it was.


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