The writing bug.

Tonight I have been right through ‘Norman’s House’, all 86,000 words of it, and it’s… well I hesitate to use the word ‘finished’ because nothing ever is. I think it’s as close to finished as I’m going to get.

There are a couple of small cracks to plaster over but the next stage is to send it to a publisher and, if accepted, let their editor pick the last fishbones from its throat.

I had Norman ‘give up’ smoking but he doesn’t really give it up. He loses interest due to being consumed by an alternative obsession. This means he stops of his own volition and so does not become an antismoker. He does not object to people smoking around him at all.

Romulus, of course, does not for one moment consider giving up his cigars, nor does the thought of whether they might bother anyone else once cross his mind.

An obsession can do that. Tonight, reading through the whole thing, I did not smoke at all and didn’t touch the whisky either. Oh, I can down the booze when writing and it definitely helps make those odd connections and twisted plotlines. Editing is different; at this stage I am looking for tiny errors and typos, which takes a lot of concentration. Especially after reading the damn thing over and over and seeing what is supposed to be there.

Now it’s done for tonight, the booze is out and the ashtray is back in use. But while concentrating on the work, smoking does not interfere because it does not enter my head at all.

That is not addiction. If it was heroin, I’d have had to stop and get a fix. No breaks, no stopping until the end. I’ve proved to myself over and over that smoking is not an addiction and tonight I proved it again. I cannot prove it to you unless you are in the room, sitting totally still and in absolute silence so as to not break me out of the editing trance with possibly violent consequences. Try it yourself. Become utterly engrossed in something (preferably one of my books, but a hobby will do at a pinch) and note the decline in smoking. It is not a giving-up scam, just a proof that smoking is not addiction.

Once in a while I also like to prove to myself that I have not turned into an alcoholic. The occasional booze-free evening is enough – no alkie could do that – or, as tonight, no interruption to hours of late night work by reaching for the bottle that is in plain sight all the time. No alkie could do that either.

Drinking is not addiction. Alcoholism is addiction. An alcoholic could not go without booze because their bodies have adapted to depend on it. Medical advice to alcoholics is to not stop abruptly. Their real, physical dependence means they have to wean off slowly. A sudden stop could cause enough metabolic shock to kill them.

The same is true for the harder drugs, if you use enough to become dependent. I have never tried any hard drugs so cannot speak from personal experience but I have known druggies and ‘cold turkey’ can be a fatal option.

Yet doctors will tell an 80-a-day smoker to stop, just stop, just like that, and they will feel much better. The opposite to what they tell anyone addicted to anything. No medical advice ever suggests cutting down on smoking gradually – but they still call it ‘addiction’.

If it was addiction, a real physical dependence on the drug, then smokers would die of ‘cold turkey’. This never happens.

Instead, smokers die of antismoker vindictiveness. And we are the bad guys?

Anyway, I think ‘Norman’s House’ should be off to a publisher soon. It’ll be months before I even get a yes/no decision and in that time I should have both ‘Panoptica’ and ‘Inside Outside’ finished. They will be self-published so are certain to appear before Norman sees the light. Norman is going the publisher route because I want the same cover artist who did ‘Jessica’s Trap’ and ‘Samuel’s Girl’ to cover this one. She is far, far better than my home-made efforts.

So what is Norman’s House about? If you read ‘Jessica’s Trap’ then it’s about what happens 350 years later. If you read ‘Samuel’s Girl’ then it’s about thirteen demons trapped in a house with Romulus Crowe, and the demons aren’t happy about it.

If you’ve read both, it makes sense.

I hope.


15 thoughts on “The writing bug.

  1. I’m looking forward to reading Panoptica. The demon stuff scares me too much to read, especially as you source genuine material, like J.K. Rowling, so I don’t read her books or watch the films, even though the studio bought flags from me for use in the Quidditch World Cup scene, which I’ve not seen.

    Having been an alky, as you know, it teaches you that demons are real (it’s called the demon drink for a reason). My other experience of an evil presence was at a ‘Priesthood’ meeting in Dundee where the now Mormon ‘prophet’ Thomas S. Monson was speaking. He was second in command of the ‘church’ at the time and I’ve never felt such an evil presence from anyone. It’s particularly weird as he was my favourite speaker on the broadcasts from Salt Lake City.

    I’m scared because it’s true. There are evil entities. I have the protection of the good spirits, of course (I don’t mean the stuff in the bottles you like). But Panoptica is bound to be unsettling too, but I can deal with that (revel in it, some might say) whereas most people seem to prefer to pretend everything in the garden is rosy. Seems they’d rather sit back and help usher in Orwell’s prediction, “If you want a picture of the future, imagine a boot stamping on a human face – forever.”


  2. I quit smoking every nite while I sleep.

    I never have to get up and have a smoke and, oddly enough, there is never smoking in my dreams.

    My dreams can be quite vivid at times.


    • And if you’re like me (and most smokers I’ve known), when you wake up having gone all night without a ciggy, you don’t immediately spark one up. I get up, wash and clean teeth etc, make (real, not instant) coffee for myself and my wife, and then when I sit down to drink my coffee some half an hour after I’ve got up, I will roll myself my first cigarette of the day. Admittedly, I only sleep five or six hours a night, but others I know who sleep a more normal eight hours do much the same in the morning. I’ve only ever known one person who would keep a packet of fags by the bed and light up as soon as he awoke.


  3. I reckon if you think Norman’s House is good to go, then it’s good to go.

    Looking forward to Panoptica as it appeared from your grumbles about staying ahead of the curve that you might actually be writing our reality into existence, so I’m fairly keen to find out how THAT turns out.


      • Probably. Hey, maybe that’s why you’re growing 2 apple trees in your garden – the bit of god within wonders what if? and the scientist bit insists on some physical evidence.

        It is possible god really misses the Fallen and why not, they’re delightful characters (mostly) – you’re hosting their Smokie-Drinkie catch-up, so there’s no loss of face for those man has labelled ‘infallible’ and so made infallible. Now if man had just labelled God as ‘unacceptable’ there would be much more room for manueuver.

        I’m just saying that’s what it looks like from my observation post and I’m letting you know … shambolically, I realise that, but passing my findings on all the same.


  4. Yes, it’s kind of always struck me as weird that doctors are always so keen to exhort smokers to go “cold turkey” without any warning about the side effects which might ensue. Maybe it’s because, as you say, they know that it isn’t really an addiction – they just use the word because it makes smoking sound scary and it gives them a convenient excuse to say that smokers are wrong when they say they enjoy smoking. Which means that they don’t have to try and address the issue of a sudden withdrawal of something pleasurable (which is often the main reason for people going back to smoking again).

    But it isn’t just a contradiction in respect of other “addictions,” though, is it? The medical profession warns against crash-dieting; they’d consider it extremely inadvisable for someone to take up lots of extremely vigorous exercise after a lifetime of sloth and inactivity; they suggest weaning people off long-term prescription drug-taking, even if those drugs are not addictive. In fact, whenever the medicos suggest some kind of change to a person’s lifestyle, they always suggest that that change is introduced gradually and carefully, in order for the body to get used to the new “regime.” Except, of course, for smokers, because where smoking is concerned, political correctness and being made to pay for one’s “sins” is more important than the patient’s welfare, isn’t it?

    It reminds me of a nurse friend of mine whose father – over 80 years old – had smoked since the 1940s. Funnily enough, this was at the funeral of a mutual friend and one of his contemporaries who had died who, needless to say, was a non-smoker. And she said to me then: “If my dad gave up smoking now, it’d kill him.” Then guess what? He did. Gave up. Cold turkey. Just like that. And two years later, I was attending his funeral. Coincidence? I think not.


    • It might also explain why so many ‘smoking related’ cancers show up years after someone stops smoking. Any sudden large change is stressful, and stress causes real physiological changes.

      That’s why in every other case, the docs recommend a slow withdrawal. They seem to be hell-bent on killing smokers,.don’t they?


  5. Pingback: Norman’s Full House – Library of Libraries

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