Violet leaves.

I just dropped submission packs of my novel Visions Of Violet at the Blackfriars Post Office. I’m hoping this becomes the thing I do that sets everything else in motion, that spells the end of my worries about my writing, and sets me off to do what I have dreamt of since I could first hold a pen.
All I have ever known is to write, and I want this so badly I have to try and suspend myself before the fall if it goes wrong. I believe in this story. I love the characters and it was just the kind of feverish writing experience every young writer wants.
I wrote the first draft in just three weeks, whilst commuting between Rayleigh and London and finding corners in fast food outlets, public houses and even a radio station to put fingers to keys. It was a pleasure but now I want to reap from a story I sat on for over a year without writing a word.

I’m excited about getting this done because I have similar ideas I have been sat on for too long. I told myself I couldn’t start anything new until Visions was in the post. Now it can start all over again. I’m ready for new characters and new adventures, to sit chewing pen lids and wonder how long it has been since I ate and what the rest of the known world is doing as I get lost in my own. I’m ready to re-immerse myself in the one man culture of writing.

Also, thanks to Simon for fronting the money for envelopes. I’m impoverished you see.

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Blessed are the forgetful.

I’m on a train. Nothing new there. The key difference is I’m going in the opposite direction. My body is dealing with it in strange ways. Each day I pull it out of sleep just after six, ram it into gear with exercise, breakfast and coffee and then squeeze it onto a train to commute to London.
This morning I am returning home. I was out last night and didn’t make or couldn’t face the return journey. I forget which. I’m still in the clothes I set out for work in yesterday morning, but I don’t feel horrible, and I don’t feel like I’m performing the walk of shame.
It feels as though enough intoxicating liquor was passed into me last night to just hush the parts of my brain that usually run at a million miles an hour. Instead I’m left with this empty vessel and it feels quite beautiful and zen.
I wonder if this is how most people feel, those who can switch off, and drift. Is this normal?

I spent nearly an hour travelling across one of my favourite cities in the world and I am in love with the world. At six am there is no buzz, there are no suits, there are barely any people in fact. Due to the work on Bank junction this morning there was a serene and unusual peace in the air, the likes of which London rarely sees.

I just wanted to take the time to address this sensation, and tell you to stop and take a while to appreciate wherever you are and whoever you’re with because it could be dragged out from underneath at any point.

The Cornetto Trilogy.

The works of Messrs Pegg, Frost and Wright will always hold a special place in my heart. The first time I saw Spaced properly was at university. After a night out I was offered the first series by a friend who had suitably brilliant taste in all the things that mattered. I got back to my flat at around three, and was still up watching the adventures of Tim, Daisy, Mike, Twist, Marsha, Brian and Colin when the sun came up. I quickly and completely fell in love with it. I still rate it as one of the finest sitcoms I have ever laid my eyes upon. The way they drew upon references was achieved with such tenderness and affection for the material was infectious and I have lost count of the amount of films I have watched as a result of them being referenced in Spaced. 

From there I branched out to anything else they had touched; Big Train, Black Books, Danger! 50,000 Volts, and then the films they had begun to make. It was during this time I made my first leap into attempted sitcom writing, and penned the brilliant cult classic Six with my best friend. To this day nobody has seen Six, but it is still very much our love child and an endless source of our amusement. Maybe that’s part of the reason I think of Shaun Of The Dead and Hot Fuzz as being so precious to me, because I cherished the leap from the small to the big screen. It felt like it was a big deal for British comedy actors to do, and it didn’t fall flat like so many others attempts have before and since. 

Tonight I got to experience the big three in one sitting, or three sittings depending on how picky you want to be on your definition of sitting. I did go outside for air, Cornettos and coffee in the twenty minute gaps between the films but other than that I was true, and stuck to the screen. The fact is six hours sat in the dark watching the japes and gore of the Cornetto Trilogy is six hours very well spent, especially when the company is so fine.
They key difference is I rarely make it through any film in the outside world without something distracting me from the task, be it food, company or Twitter so watching Shaun Of The Dead and Hot Fuzz was whole and more absorbing than I could ever remember it being. Nothing plagues the brain like the surround-sound effects of a zombie invasion on North London, nothing fills the ears like the amplified screech of tyre tracks and gunshots. It was an experience. 

This of course brings me on to the final in the trilogy, the finish line, Jerry’s Final Thought. To say anything about the film’s content would essentially ruin it for a would be audience. I can confirm it made me laugh and it didn’t go where I expected it to. All parties onscreen were well cast and the cameos and appearances were as always a geeky highlight. I will say this though, how many other British writing and directing partnerships could pull me to spend over six hours in the concentration camp that is Lakeside? Not many, if any at all. 

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100 Club.

I went to check on the statistics for my blog this morning, only to find I have hit the 100 sales mark. That’s one hundred physical copies of my book in existence. One hundred people who know I accidentally, a little bit and through no fault of my own _______ in my own _____.
(No spoilers here)
Oh the shame, the shame of it all. Plus the joy, the joy of it all. Oh the shame and the joy of it all.

I’m honestly overwhelmed and humbled at the response from people. Everyone has been very kind or else kept their mouths shut. I would like to once again thank anyone who made those stories happen, anyone I pissed off whilst being a reclusive genius, and everyone who has a copy. You’re all golden.

What now? I’m redrafting at the moment. It’s not the next book but it may well become the one after, although according to reliable sources (Stacy), this is going to be ‘the one that breaks through’. I have faith in everything I write but WDATMG is a bit of a vanity project. I can write outside of the autobiographical lad tales, I have and I will continue to, just grant me a bit of time.

Below are a selection of the photos I have been sent by people in the last two months.

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What Project 333 gave me.

For the last three months I have worn the same 33 items of clothing. Did you notice? I know nobody called me out over it. That was one of the things that worried me most about it.
If you don’t know what Project 333 is, then I suggest you head over here.
I wanted to give Project 333 a try because I think we put far too much effort into the power of things. The last three months have shown me that being practical is more suitable and fitting to my personality than anything else. Some of the items I chose initially were switched out after a month, when I realised I had chosen them for completely the wrong reasons.

I have:
9 t-shirts
3 jumpers
4 cardigans
6 shirts
2 pairs of jeans
1 pair of shorts
1 coat
1 jacket
1 blazer
1 necklace
1 earring
3 pairs of shoes

Time
Time is precious, especially when you like to roll out of bed with the least amount of time possible before you have to leave for any kind of appointment or meeting. I like to do just that. The joy of only wearing 33 items of clothing is that for the majority of the time you don’t have to make a choice as to what you are going to wear, you have to wear what is in the drawer or wardrobe. There are no options. Options can often be more limiting than you realise. Before, I would spend far too long searching all over for a certain item, now all of the items are a certain item. I picked them because I like wearing them.

Money
On far too many occasions I was tempted to buy clothes, because I am a victim of consumerism, like we all are. What stopping yourself from buying clothes does, is makes you realise is that it is the easy option. I won’t buy anything because I don’t need it. This rule goes beyond clothes now. I am still on a learning curve with it all, but I take my time before I buy anything. I think it through. This has obviously saved me money. I may buy some more things now I have proven to myself that I don’t need to, but I will do so keeping in mind that it has to be better than something I already own and am willing to replace.

Style
Project 333 has taught me I have a series of looks I like to go for. I favour plain v-neck t-shirts over anything else. This may well change in another three months, and I may swap the lot over for something else, but if I could wear a white v-neck t-shirt, and a pair of jeans every day I would. It’s what I feel comfortable in, and I think I look alright in it. It might not be the height of fashion, there are no SuperDry logos, there are no triangle designs, there are no scoop-neck chest hair abominations on display, but it works for me, and I will continue with it. I can then swap in cardigans, shirts and jackets over the top. Project 333 has an excellent article on men who dress with less here.

Space
As I had reduced the amount of clothes in my life, it made me look at the other things I surround myself with. There are so many touches doing this has had on my life, and I am sure I will miss some off even now. I don’t like having a pile of things on my desk. I don’t like clutter. I don’t like items on my desktop background. I don’t like stacks of paperwork sitting idle. I don’t like things overfilling shelves. I don’t like things being out of place. Maybe some of this is OCD. I am slightly obsessive compulsive and I’m the first person to admit that, but, having cleared out a lot of things on a simple two question test, I feel much better in myself. I honestly feel clearer, and more productive as a result of not being so surrounded by things.
The two question test is composed of:
Does it serve a purpose?
Do I get enjoyment out of it?

Anything else can go.

The clothes I have serve a purpose, in that I’m not allowed to wander around naked. I get enjoyment from the neat shelves of books and films I own. My laptop gets two ticks. My guitars get two ticks.
It’s amazing how much you can clear out. I still have a number of items which mean something to me, have some sentimental value. I’m not going to start burning my photo albums or throwing family heirlooms down the stairs but I found as the days ticked by I started to wonder why I hold onto all these things. They sit on shelves, and get moved if they are in the way of something worthwhile. They need dusting at some point. They don’t mean anything. They’re gone.
I don’t think I have minimised as much as most people do. Some people really go for it. I can’t do that yet. I have my own ways of doing things, and that is what I am happy with.

Under the rules of Project 333 I am allowed to unpack everything I put away three months ago. I know exactly where it is, in a huge suitcase in the loft, but I won’t be putting everything back where it was. I don’t need to. I may substitute a few bits, but there are people who could do with those clothes a lot more than my suitcase in the loft or I could, so this weekend I will be taking a trip to a local charity shop or drop off point to get rid of more things I own that I don’t really need.

If there is any part of you that is curious about this, then I recommend it. Choose things you enjoy wearing, things that are comfortable and versatile and just do it. You will be surprised how long you can make 33 items last. I could go for a fortnight without wearing the same top twice if I wanted to. I believe that’s how I started out with the project in fact, just to get everything into the cycle. There’s nothing to say you have to be a particular age or gender to give it a try, and the benefits are beyond those I have written about and are personal to me.
Start today, and don’t look back.

Murakami logic.

I have just finished reading Kafka On The Shore by Haruki Murakami. Rather than just give a straight review of the book, which was excellent, I thought I would explain what it is about his work I find so compelling.
I first picked up Norwegian Wood as the result of a recommendation by someone with an excellent opinion on things that matter. She told me it reminded her of me or at least that she imagined it to be the kind of book I would enjoy. This was almost a decade ago. Since then I have also found comfort in Hard Boiled Wonderland, Sputnik Sweetheart, Dance, Dance, Dance and his most recent work 1Q84. Each and every time I take the move to get lost in his world for four or five hundred pages I find myself falling in love with the power of the written word all over again.

The incredible thing about Murakami’s work lies in his ability to force you to accept. In order to enjoy the beautifully-crafted worlds he describes you need to leave your logic at the door. There’s something joyous and childlike about doing so. To read Murakami’s work is to accept things for the simple reasons and explanations provided in the way children when running through the phase of asking why everything and anything happens will be given the briefest of insights. That’s what his writing brings back.
Without this acceptance there is nothing to be gained.
It teaches you to fill in the blanks. My understanding of what took place between Kafka Tamura, Nakata and the others is my own. There is no trite explanation, no big reveal, it’s all open to insight, philosophy and spin.

His work is some of the most beautiful and poetic I have seen, and given, I imagine some of this is lost in translation from the original Japanese manuscript, it is a real feat. His understanding of characters, of consciousness, of kindness and selfishness, of sex and longing, is so close to a revealing diary entry it makes for pages that turn themselves.

Each time I invest in Haruki Murakami, I know I am in.

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