5/365 Tom Bloody Daley


It may seem a little early to say this, but a new routine has established itself in 2017 without me especially trying.

These posts – written in fear of a strictly self-imposed 600-word limit – are written in around half an hour, early in the evening. Additionally every night this week before my head hits the pillow, I’ve scribbled 500 words more – fiction – in my notebook.

Simple maths (I only got a C at GCSE, so it will be simple) reveals that if I was to continue writing these daily posts every day for 365 days,  I’d accumulate a total of nearly 219,000 words by the end of the year. Picture what that looks like in print. An epic paperback, one that needs holding in both hands when read on a commute.

Imagine what writing an additional 500 words a night would result in: an additional 182,500 (obviously); potentially two epic paperbacks in draft form.

But writing is the easy bit, far easier than persuading a third-party to publish. I’ve never been any good at selling. Selling your work to someone else is like having sex with someone you don’t want to have sex with.  I’ve already spent my libido creating the damn thing in the first place. You’re telling me I need more to get it published?

Tonight’s journey home is an experimental one (see later). During the first five minutes I calculate alternatives to my newly formed goals.

If I gave myself a couple of days off a week, I’d still clock up an enviable 130,000 words of fiction by the end of the year. Or, if I was to write 500 words a day for 6 months solid, I could end up with a commuter-friendly paperback.

It’s taken me a long time to realise this (I’m talking years here), but thinking about the tangible outcomes of a writing project are just as important as the robustness of the initial idea. No point in writing something no-one wants to commission. No point in a publisher putting something out there no-one’s got the energy to hold in their hand during their journey to work.

Some background about the experimental journey home – part of a longer-range feasibility study. My usual journey (London Charing Cross to Hither Green) is 20 minutes, too short for any practical endeavours like writing or reading.

But, at 35 minutes long London Victoria to Forest Hill is the optimum length. The additional time offers more chance to get something down, making the sub-edit not only more effective but more enjoyable. Who knew? I didn’t.

Everything is going well – lots of bashing at the keyboard – until I catch sight of one of the adverts inside the train carriage, one for ‘Tom Daley’s new book, Daily Plan which apparently “can help YOU become leaner, stronger and healthier “.

Daley’s wide smile and thick eyebrows weigh down on me, reminding me of a physique I failed to realise. For this promotional shot Daley’s also making a heart symbol with his hands and is pictured alongside a dustjacket shot of him sat cross-legged on a sofa with a bowl of something (presumably granola) in his hands.  This highly contrived marketing strategy in all of its nauseating glory sickens me without me even having the book in my hands.

Guilt kicks in. I’m being a mean-spirited arsehole. He’s a great role model. He deserves his infectious happiness. And, as he ages, he still remains cute and will probably improve in later years.

But has he actually written the book himself? Has he toiled? Has he found the optimum journey home to maximum his concentration? Has he?

I’ll take a different journey home tomorrow. Probably best.

This year I’m returning to my blogging roots and writing a daily journal.

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