Monday, 3 May 2010

Good night, Vienna*

It is with deep regret that I announce the death of my imagination. To my surprise rather than being the last faculty of mine to go as the years’ tally mounts, it has been the first.
I estimate my published journalism adds up to well over one million words in national newspapers and magazines in a career that kicked off in the late Sixties. This is a back of an envelope calculation.
It is a much easier task to add up the publication of my literary output – in chronological order - poetry, plans for a Time Out rival, a television chat show format, a novel, several TV comedy series, a stage play, a screenplay for a psychological thriller, another novel, and two years ago a short story collection. Zilch, nothing, a fat zero.
Some of the work attracted the support of literary agents - a lot didn’t. I’m not making excuses - for the most part the standard wasn’t good enough. The projects served to fill a gap in my life and for that I’m grateful.
A couple of the short stories have already appeared in this blog and a few more may follow so you can be the judge if they’re any good.
I’m not decrying the thought that goes into writing this blog (so far five days a week) but I miss not having a book on the go.
I had always contented myself with the thought that when I gave up full-time work, where others travel or garden, I would have a crack at another novel.
But where once – and not that long ago – I rattled off 18 or so short stories, I found my well of imagination had run dry.
When I did have the bare bones of an idea, I couldn’t plot it or decide whether it was a black comedy or not or even what person to write it in.
Of course I didn’t want to arrive a couple of years out at the conclusion my ambition had once again outstretched my writing ability.
But now the decision whether or not to embark on a new venture will never be put to the test. It has taken a while for me to realise I’m no longer being pursued by literary demons. It’s rather liberating. Isn’t it?

*Eric Partridge in "A Dictionary of Catch Phrases American and British," has an entry for "Good night, Vienna".
It comes from the title of a 1932 romantic operetta. As a [catch phrase] it has been described by Cyril Whelan, 1975, as ‘a pen-knife’ phrase, in that it can be put to a variety of different uses - often apparently contradictory. "If the officer catches us up to this, it's Good night, Vienna, for the lot of us." - "So I met the girl. We had a few drinks. Back to her place, and Good night, Vienna".

No comments:

Post a Comment

What do you think? GC