TOOT TOUT: This is a new regular blog feature. TOOT.
I used to think one idea was as valid as another. If I could turn the tale of a blind ice-cream vendor in Compton into a heartbreaking tragicomic Pushcart-bagging poetic marvel, why not write that tale, instead of the more personal tale of the bespectacled perpetual self-deprecator (named M.J. Nicholls) with a sideline in self-lacerating quips and blanket denunciations of all that is beautiful and worthwhile on this earth? Why not let the poor man on the street have a voice over the narcissistic misanthrope with bad skin, eyesight, and diction? Or, what makes one idea catch fire and burn bright over another? My answer: chance. The illogical whims of a semiliterate and indifferent book-hating public.
Clearly, the Great British public can’t be trusted to read decent books. The Great British public want sensationalist slurry, to be part of the same amorphous univoice all parroting the words: “Good read. Page-turner. I like what I like.” There is no point exploring ideas a reader might like, since the reader is an imbecile who likes memes, snowball fights and Tony Parsons. The only solution is to explore the one thing on a writer’s mind. That one thing being the question: HOW CAN I MAKE PEOPLE LOVE ME AND MY WRITING? All writing tends towards solipsism. Why pretend?
My solution. All protagonists shouldn’t merely be autobiographical. They should be you. Just make yourself the protagonist. Just make yourself the protagonist who writes a really amazing book that catches the zeitgeist and becomes a bestseller and becomes Radio 4 Book of the Week, etc. Content doesn’t matter. Why not live out your unrealisable dream through your manuscript, instead of trying to write a manuscript that allows you to live out your unrealisable dream? Isn’t it more pleasurable (and logical) to enter that dream daily, to indulge and embellish and cavort in the sparkle of your own delusions, rather than clinging desperately to the possibility you may one day be published?
Relax! You don’t need to write that masterpiece! Simply write yourself into a dream and stay there. It’s the only way.