Flogging Dead Horses and Other Time Wasters

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A couple of months ago I mentioned my plan to make my very first novel, long out of print, available as a free e-book. To that end I’ve been transcribing it ready for digital formatting, a tedious process at the best of times. Reader, I cannot go on. The book sucks. I don’t know what I was thinking. I don’t know what Chatto & Windus were thinking. I’m very grateful to them for launching my writing career at the advanced age of 39 but that does not alter the fact that The Man for the Job was a pillow-bitingly bad turkey.

One good thing has emerged from this colossal waste of my time: I can now see that I have improved as a writer. Maybe, fifty years from now, some post-grad, scraping the barrel bottom for a Ph.D topic will unearth the last remaining copy of my debut novel and come to the conclusion that it must have been written by a team of monkeys. Thank goodness I won’t be around.

My decision to scrap the project brought me a feeling of instant relief. Why did it take me so long? All those wasted Sundays. I blame my mother, a woman who never called quits on anything, not a five hundred page novel she wasn’t enjoying, not a stale station buffet sandwich. ‘I’ve started, so I’ll finish.’ I reckon Magnus Magnusson got that from my Mum.


  1. Helen Atkin on March 5, 2017 at 5:43 pm

    Well done Laurie! So what do you have in mind now? Or will you take the chance to enjoy a spot of creative inaction?

  2. Elizabeth Tyrrell on March 8, 2017 at 2:35 pm

    I recently obtained old copies of Generation Games and The British Abroad. Perhaps I shouldn’t compare them to your novels but oh how fantastic your writing is now! At Sea, Mr Starlight, Life According to Lubka, and your other novels from the last 20 years are just masterpieces! Don’t give another thought to The Man for the Job. As Helen ( above) says ” enjoy a spot of creative inaction” and return to work to give us all such great pleasure with whatever inspires you next.

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