30 days and 30 Nights

26.01.14
 
That’s roughly how long I’ve been out and – two or three days aside – how long it’s been raining for. And the days are short, the nights long and it’s fucking cold.
 
I’m stuck at Gilbert Arse at the moment because of the rain. I don’t want to be here: it’s cold and damp; there’s no wi-fi and no human company. And it’s dangerous; not just from a health and safety point of view but also potential visitors. But I can write anywhere with just my pen and pad, pending the acquisition of the tablet / notebook I’ve applied for.
 
Once (if) I get that, I can really get working on the novel and it will come together much quicker. I’ve now plotted a likely denoument and the book has got to a point in the planning and plotting process where it’s becoming a much more realistic, achievable prospect. I can see it: perhaps one day even on the shelves of a bookshop. One day I will realise my ambition of becoming a published author in print (I’ve previously been published online: not self-published but by webzines).
 
I’m a writer for my own means (and for those who are interested) and for my recovery but if one day I benefit financially from doing what I enjoy, so much the better. We have a creative writing group at CRI on Tuesdays and as well as the actual art of writing, it also covers the practical issues. I shall be there (and Becca’s coming too).
 
I’m almost excited about the novel now that it’s taking shape. It’s just a shame that I lost the ability to become aroused (mentally) long ago, through having the life kicked out of me (metaphorically; drawn from me perhaps) so long ago but on no one catalystic date that I can identify (there were so many) and for so long since. Kicked down, got up and brushed myself off; kicked down again, got up again: repeat until tired, depressed, unwell, destitute, misplaced, displaced, despairing, lost… One step forward, several back; over and over.
 
Although this journal is private (me, my thoughts and observations), it’s obviously in the public domain. When someone asks what I’m writing and if they may read it (often), I submit. Most recently my story was described as intelligently written, articulate, funny, insightful and fascinating but also tragic. My mouth, my heart; my snotty sleeve. My pen, my notepad; my story.
 
How, where and when this story might end is obviously a preoccupation. My “agent” (a friend who used to be a publisher and who retains contacts) has advised that at around 32’000 words (so far) this journal, once added to the main narrative (that of the protagonist, probably in first-person context) which will surround it, will amount to something well over the typical length of a novel: 100-120’000 words as it turns out. A book of that length will typically retail at £7.99 in paperback (£16.99 in hard cover). Heavy editing of Victor Frank’s diary / journal was always planned but not yet knowing where the story might end – and with the narrative yet to add – it could turn into quite a large book and therefore command a higher cover price, which would have a detrimental effect on sales. Supply and demand; debut novel; limited market. The entrepreneur in me is re-emerging to work alongside the author.
 
Using standard type sizes in a normal format book (around B5 size) will equate to around 400 words per page. A typical 100’000 word novel then will run to 250 pages and retail at the aforementioned £7.99 / £16.99. At the moment, making many assumptions of the unknown (when Victor’s story might reach a conclusion; the inclusion of the son’s narrative), we (it) should remain within certain perameters. the greater the word count, the more pages in the book, the higher the cover price and the fewer the sales. A fine balancing act and that’s why writers have agents.
 
And the kicking continues: I asked if I might be allowed to see my children (briefly and under supervision and to aid my recovery). I received a firm reply in the negative. Apparently it wouldn’t be good for the kids to see me in my current “state” (it’s a predicament). And apparently it’s bee nreported that I’m dirty and dishevelled. I don’t know who’s been talking to whom but I’m not. I still retain some personal dignity and pride in my appearance. There are days when I have a full beard because it keeps me warm when I’ve been WORKING OUTSIDE. Sometimes my hands are dirty because I’ve benn WORKING OUTSIDE. And sometimes my clothes are grubby because I’ve been WORKING OUTSIDE. There’s no point changing into clean clothes if the next day you’re due to be WORKING OUTSIDE.
 
Apparently I’ve resisted help: well the previous offers of false hope, the missed calls and opportunities were just that and have already been documented. As well as WORKING OUTSIDE, I’m adressing (and getting help with) benefits, housing, medication and ongoing employment. As it stands, the WORKING OUTSIDE has finished temporarily, so this morning I’ve washed, shaved and changed into clean clothes.
 
Like I’d really be where I’ve been for the last month by choice. But that’s the accusation. To be honest, in many respects, I’d rather be here. I’ll be back kids. We’ll all go for a drink: coffee for me, cokes for you and saucers of milk for some others.
 
Although I’m going to Shelter tonight for dinner and to check the place out, I’ll probably not stay. I have a friend who’s recently been made homeless and who has nowhere to go. Although my former housemate forbade any revelation of where we’re staying, I’ve given the details to my trusted friend. She’s alone, she’s young and therefore vulnerable. I’ll deal with any consequences which arise, rather than her be out on the street, exposed to the elements and more besides. She knows she’s safe with me. We all look after each other out here.
 
Whilst I’m “out for dinner” tonight, my friend has detailed instructions on the complicated means of gaining entry to Gilbert Arse and of securing herself within; although not before I return must she barricade the door. This exposes her to danger, so I shall return as soon as I can. And although Shelter would be a more pleasant environment in which to sleep, I shall return in order to serve as some degree of protection in what can be a dangerous environment; not as dangerous as outside but the more people who know of gilbert Arse, the greater the risk of visitors. It’s a moral balancing act. Although my former housemate could return at any time and he’s still a potential danger in himself, being on the right side of him offers some degree of security: dangerous but a handy person to know.
 
30 days and 30 nights: 40 days and 40 nights is generally accepted to be the definition of a long time and I could be longer than that but I’ll be back as quick as I can kids.

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