My problem is that unconventional forms and structures excite me. The content of a story, for me, is swappable with other content—I have no burning story to tell, I only have a cast of no-hopers and oddballs, shambling through a world of slapstick darkness looking for something to alleviate their loneliness, because other people are unavailable or unwilling, and novel ways to tell stories, comment on those stories, and open these stories into other stories or comments-on-stories, in various ways that attempt to dodge the “meta” tag (now one of condemnation) enough to be respected (i.e. “published.”) All the while, sweating blood to appear “contemporary” or “innovative” in an age when no one really cares about these things except other writers, who are the first to slap you down when an elaborate construct you spent a year refining unfortunately repeats a far smarter one designed by a 60s pre-Derridean poststructuralist genius, forcing you to spend another year redesigning your origami swan of obscurity before binning the whole thing to write the Next Big Plotboiler.
My other problem is that linear stories are infinitely boring to me, and that in our distracted and distracting age, it is becoming harder to convincingly compose a story in a slowly archaising form. We watch videos, movies, clips, listen to albums and songs in our own way. The linearity of the conventional novel is becoming less appealing to the, or least this, reader: surely fiction should strive to present its own appearance of “linearity” in a way that connects with a contemporarily fragmented brain?
We want to get there quicker! Faster! More speed, more steam, more horsepower! We use our Satnavs and iPhones to take shortcuts to our destinations so we can squeeze in an extra protein shake, trip to the gym, short-term relationship, five or six songs, so every urgent desperate fading moment is not wasted, because what could be worse than dying at ninety-four without having squeezed every vomcube of pleasure out of the human experience? Give us the ending now! Give us the ending before the story begins! Better still, give us the plotlines and characters and themes and emotions in the story and let us assemble them in our own time! If we can find the time, which we never can, you know . . .
So listen: my novels loaf in quasi-experimental obscurity because the alternative is a rapacious publishing machine that eats your face and kills your dog. I write them because I seriously DO NOT BELIEVE (this is not defeatism, damn you!) that there are commercial publishers out there for me who want to pay me for my efforts, or zealous tireless agents and readers in positions of power seeking to reward the new with pounds and pennies, I DENY THEIR VERY EXISTENCES! My proles are harassed overworked alcoholic small-press editors, who also have no aspirations to publish me, what with only publishing two books per year, and ones that need to find an audience, who I also do not believe exist! (Note: this does not stop me sending manuscripts, but once sent, they do not exist either!)
Who else is there to write for but yourself? Most writers can’t even get their friends and family to read them, and sneering amateurs at workshops simply tell you how unsellable and weird your stuff is, in comparison with theirs. My next novel is going to be a final exercise in self-destruction (my first novel was too), but this time, I am taking everyone else with me. Beware.