I’m not usually one for taking part in online debates about writing, mostly because I’m not that clever. However, this week I’ve been involved in a fascinating discussion with a group of writers on the use of gratuitous violence in both books and film. Or to be more specific, the duty of the writer in the way they portray it.
I won’t go too deeply into the way it unfolded other than to say it veered from one extreme to the other and back again at least more than once. But whilst it was extremely interesting to learn how others perceive their creative responsibilities, little or nothing was said which made me change the way I think about mine. And mine, as I see them, are relatively simple. Indeed, they can be encapsulated in one single sentence. For when it comes to anything fictional, my job is to tell a decent story as honesty and realistically as I can.
This is underpinned by something I have said many times and that is the fact that the most important person in publishing is the reader. And when you write the kind of things I do for the kind of people I primarily write them for (lads), then my sole duty is to give them something which they can not only recognise but hopefully, put themselves into the centre of.
In the case of hooliganism, that means street fighting and anyone who has ever been involved in a row at football knows that it isn’t Queensbury Rules Boxing or Tae Kwon Do, it’s short periods of scruffy, disjointed mayhem. It’s still violence, but it’s real violence as opposed to the stylised fighting we see in too many films and computer games and whilst for some it’s little short of terrifying, for others it’s bordering on hilarious.
That’s how I have to write it because that’s how it is. Anything else would be a betrayal and I’d lose my readers in a heartbeat.
Quite rightly too.
The next few weeks (maybe even days) will see a couple of announcements on the movie front. The first will almost certainly be the name of the director signed to ‘We Still Kill The Old Way’ and the second will be the release date for ‘Top Dog’.
Assuming all goes to plan, it’s going to be an exciting few months on both fronts.
There have also been a couple of developments on the book side of things the most important of which is that the novel I’ve been working on for the last few months has been scrapped.
I won’t say much about the subject matter for now and normally I’d advise any writer to finish everything they start working on because you never know if it will click into place and come right. However, in this instance, I was happy to go against my own advice purely because I just wasn’t enjoying writing it and with two other books lined up, I was keen to get stuck into one of those which is exactly what I’ve done.
Indeed, the book I’m working on now is actually the one I should have written last year because it’s the one that genuinely excites me.
Yes, Billy’s Log 2 is finally on the way.