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.