from the bottom of a very deep hole

It’s highly possible that by the time I get to the end of the first draft of this novel, all that I’ll have to show for it is the first draft of a novel. My home will be ripped apart by feral mice (they’ll become feral after eating the thyroid medication I’ve carelessly left lying around the place). Moths will turn all my clothes into lace. My phone and electricity will be cut off (obviously) and I will have to work by candlelight, except the mice will have eaten all the candles, which will turn out to be a good thing, as when the landlord turns up to evict me from this place, a huge waxy dead mouse will be wedged under the door, making it impossible to open or close. My friends will stop leaving me plaintive, slightly desperate messages about needing to ‘catch up soon!’ and ‘what do you mean you’re not coming to my wedding? You’re the bride!’

I will emerge from the writing of this first draft like something undead crawling out of its own grave. I will trudge around the streets, pressing my unedited manuscript into people’s hands, telling them they’re my favourite beta reader and asking them for spare change so I can buy stamps and send my work of genius out into the world where it is sure to cause a bidding war between the major publishing companies.  I will react to suggestions that I self-publish by setting my hair on fire.

One day I will go to sleep in a hollowed-out tree trunk, and when I wake up, some squirrels will be ripping up my manuscript and using it for bedding. Not even red squirrels, but those ordinary grey fuckers. I’ll fight them for the papers, incurring several painful bites and scratches, and ending up with nothing but a few scraps of soiled squirrel bedding and an incipient case of septicaemia which will quickly prove fatal. My remains will be found on a hillside, perhaps months later, bloated and green from the rain, a single piece of paper crumpled in my dead hand. The police officers who find me will attempt to prise the paper from my fist, but it will be nothing but mould and pulp. “Fucking writers,” they will say. “That’s the third one we’ve had this month.”

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