I spend the afternoon doing cover briefs. I have to get data from a content management system, out into a spreadsheet, then put some of that data back into another spreadsheet, then type the relevant bits back into the content management system, then press a button, to generate a design brief, and then record that I have done it on the second spreadsheet I mentioned. The drip coffee has taken on the burnt smell of a mild cigar and I am particularly enjoying it. I feel dessicated as I haven’t drunk enough water and yet I feel, also, that I have somewhere the beginnings of the next book. I have two false starts – two 5,000 word nubs on my PC with different elements to them and I think that one of them will win. I think back to the third, which is even larger – I have over 10,000 words, but Gareth and his friend Anthony will have to remain in stasis just that bit longer. I write in bursts, after long deliberation, I rarely revise, rarely edit. I am not a re-writer. I edit down, through the layers, sifting, removing, but I like the way the words feel against each other, usually first time. My Facebook Author page doesn’t yet have 50 ‘likes’. I wonder if this defines me. I don’t think that it does.
I have spent large parts of the day silently, and non-so-silently getting worked up about the quality of the poor facsimile editor of my copy of Bellow’s "Herzog". It’s the 2001 Penguin Modern Classics edition with a Malcolm Bradbury introduction, all nicely typeset. They have even thought to re-set the dedication. It is just the text itself, all 300 odd pages of it, printed on thin, flimsy paper and slightly blurring through poor facsimile technology. Big husks of words are missing. It gives me a headache to look at it. But perhaps that mazy, headache feeling is what you need when you pick up "Herzog".
I pine for the sentences of Don DeLillo, cool and calm and soothing in their metronomic power.