Posted by: docdenbow | April 7, 2012

I Really Hate Ian Banks

Do you want to know something? Well, since I started doing this blog I’ve written in excess of 100 posts. That’s in about 9 months. Round about 10 a month. You do the sums I can’t be bothered. I’ve enjoyed every moment of writing every single post. I’ve found some easy to write, some have been bloody hard.

A year on, and unless I prattle on about the Wolves or bang on about reality TV or some obscure album that no one has heard of I’m getting to the stage where I’m fresh out of ideas as to what to write about. Getting there, but not quite there yet. One thing for sure is that there is going to be no more self indulgent shit that I seem to keep writing. No sirree, time to move onwards, upwards and across and where have you.

I have started to write something, something that I think has the potential to be both funny and a bit (or rather a lot controversial) but I am unsure as to whether I ought to write it or just leave it as an embryonic, unfinished, never to be completed idea. That’s my biggest problem when I have an idea about writing something “substantial” in either content or quantity – I simply “bottle” it. I’ve made 2 or 3 (or more) attempts to write a novel. Most have been utter garbage, truly epically crap. Bollocks beyond compare. Just like a thing called the “Abattoir and Bambi” (it’s on this blog) where I deliberately tried to write something in the style (sort) of Robert Rankin. It’s shit in my opinion, I giggled like fuck when I wrote it, and with some polish I may laugh more, but I’ll be on my own there. It’s derivative and bollocks. But then again…..

Anyway yet another of my literary extravaganzas that was consigned to that place that is known as the “Recycle Bin” was about 15,000 words that I was immensely proud of. I thought that I was writing out of my skin, so to speak. The premise was brilliant, the ending was to be both tantalizing, obvious and yet a surprise. It was going to be fucking brilliant. I really wished that I had kept it so I could read it again to show myself what a complete and utter twat I am.

It began with a bloke standing on a beach (Caswell Bay as it happens) after having opened the tailgate of his Volvo to let his dog run across the sand. He was going to smoke fags, watch the waves crashing against the rocks and wonder where it had all gone wrong. Why his life has gone tits up. Then he was going to announce that as his life had gone tits up and apart from the dog he was all alone that he was going to kill himself. He then began to tell his dog, a Springer Spaniel called Dave, his life story. His story as a rock star, how it began, all of the adventures, the success, the super star status and the inevitable decline, the deaths of friends and bandmates and then the fall into anonymity, followed by the loss of a fortune due to a dodgy accountant and crap investments. It had it all, it had it all. Then the ending. Could an ending ever going to be clever? Sentimental? Romantic? All 3 mate. All 3. And then some.

This, I thought, was going to be my masterpiece. The 1st novel that would capture the imagination and set me off on the way to being a writer full time. I could dream,couldn’t I? Lookout Tony Parson, move over Nick Hornby, I was coming to get you cos this was going to be better than anything you pair had ever written. Better. I meant it, I envisaged a paperback deal, signings in Waterstones and W.H. Smiths. My imagination was running riot. Fame and fortune beckoned – I was going to be rich.

Look at me, Ma! I’m on top of the world!

Then, a mate had a little read, at my invitation, I wanted to get someone to look, read, appraise. Boost my ego if you like. He sat at my laptop in silence and read through my lovingly slaved over prose. Each word I’d written I’d sweated over and nurtured as if it were a newborn baby. I knew it was good, but I didn’t know, wasn’t sure, just how good.

Andy was in the conservatory reading my fledgling novel, whilst I stood in the kitchen making coffee. Eventually he joined me. I wanted to know what he thought of it. I was eager to know. I tried to act cool and disinterested. Probably failing.

“Ever read any Ian Banks?” Andy enquired.
“I started “The Wasp Factory,” but got bored with it.” I answered
“Any others?”
“Ermm,” I was thinking, “Read Espedair Street as well. Can’t remember what it was about though.”
“I don’t know how to tell you this,” Andy couldn’t even look at me, “You’re re – writing Espedair Street, except your protagonist is a bloke from Swansea – at least that’s the way it’s looking”
“You having me on? Right?”
“Wrong.In Espedair Street the main character is Daniel Weir, in yours it’s Danny Ward. You might as well pack it in now, it’s well written though.”

Fuck. I thought it was going too well. Yes, I had read Espedair Street, but somehow it had slipped my “conscious” mind. The entire pissing plot was in my head though, and I’d spent 3 weeks tweaking it from my subconscious mind into Denbow’s masterpiece. Was I upset? What do you think?
I regret doing what I did next. I went to my laptop, deleted the entire piece. All of it. Straight into the re cycle bin and then gone forever. That was the end of that. At least it taught me a lesson but I’ll be fucked if I know what it is……………………

Ciao For Now – I Hate you Ian Banks




  1. Sorry bout bursting your literary bubble. It was quite funny then, but as you’ve told it, you have an author in you just fighting to get out!

  2. A nice blog post mate. I think you are concentrating too hard on the process of writing, what you want to end up with (re: A novel), and maybe even getting rich and famous off the back of it. Scrap all that but remember you are capable and more than able to write a book.

    So what you had the idea of another writer in your head. Writers aren’t geniuses neither are they only inspired by their interesting lives; they are inspired by what they read too. The first thing I ever learned back when I was a wee lad attempting to write was, read a lot! Then you get to see styles and ways of using English that you might not other wise have considered.

    The idea of a lonely man wanting to commit suicide is a good one sir! What I’d do now is first, remove all doubt and start again. Don’t let the character die because I’m sure that if you are anything like me scrapping the idea doesn’t kill the character. He’ll still be in your head banging at your skull asking to be freed so you gotta write him a story… and damn it his dog needs to get out and have a piss too! So loose them out. Have a coffee with him and try to understand where he is and where he wants to be. Maybe he’s still standing next to his car near the beech watching the dog run around and thinking, “I wanna commit suicide!”

    Loving nothing but a dog and wanting to die but having to survive to look after the mutt is a starting point. Maybe the dog is ill, it shits blood all over a rock pool and a crab on the beech and he panics, his want to die is lost for a moment in his love for a creature that does nothing but eat, fart and piss. Maybe he meets an old friend in the vets or maybe an old band mate is now even working there, maybe he rediscovers friends, a love for music and playing rock and roll, maybe he overcomes suicidal thoughts, finds love, but loses his best friend the old faithful mutt. Maybe the love he finds he loses or has sudden success with the band that dries up, maybe the relationship and music effect each other, maybe he finds himself at the end of the story stood on the same beech with nothing at all, not even the dog, maybe he wins £20k on a lottery ticket. A lot of cash but not enough to change his life, maybe anything you want. Maybe he goes home and writes a blog that changes the world, creates controversy, inspires a revolution in a communist dictatorship…

    You can call the dog back into the car and let him drive home and then delete his entire story but you can’t kill your character, nor his dog. You created them and you are responsible now to let them live, so just write a story with the same characters, maybe start it years before, or maybe start it with his dog and a friend standing next to his grave and go back and tell us why they are there to begin with.

    Just tell the story man! You’re in charge… hell they can go into space and fight aliens or go to Africa and cure cholera; you have the power my writer friend.

    Peace! 

  3. Dunno why you worry. Every word JK Rowling has ever written is nicked from someone else. Plagiarism is the new black.

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