Friday, 16 November 2018
Goethe, sandwiches and John Virgo
'Where do you get your ideas from?'
It's the writer's least favourite and most often asked question (although 'Will I have read any of your books?' runs it a close second). For The Long and the Short of It, though, the answer is easy: from The People. Forty pieces of writing, subject and length imposed by the book's funders, who have, after all, paid for the privilege.
When I put the book idea to Unbound, we discussed the likelihood of this innovative approach coming back to bite me on the backside. I exuded, or such was my hope, quiet confidence about my ability to take on anything my sadistic funders might throw at me. That confidence took a couple of knocks as the subjects trickled in. Some of them, set by people who know me well, were right in the middle of my target zone: nature, sport, music, food and so on; others, also set by people who know me well, seemed to take a perverse satisfaction in their obscurity; one is positively sadistic – I'll tell you more about that in a future update. The main thing is that the spread of subjects is, as I'd intended, quite wide-ranging – allowing me to be discursive in my approach, and also to wander off at a tangent whenever the fancy takes me.
Which is why, in the last fortnight, I've found myself writing about Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, ham and mustard sandwiches and John Virgo. And if you need to know what those disparate subjects are doing in the same book, well I'm afraid you'll just have to wait.