You can’t say no to the Nolan

5/4/2010: To-Do ListPhil: When Candice asked last Thursday, referring to reaching the half way point writing Book 2, “Are you up for it Phil?”, my first reaction was,


Right at the moment, I’m busy. OK, I’m always busy, even if it’s not what people might refer to as “proper” work, but right at this moment a major project has just taken off, I’m embarking on another for a different publication and some deadlines for the same people have crept up on me. And there is a little cluster of tiny deadlines to look at that I’m trying to ignore for a few days by not opening an envelope.

A bit of midnight oil is being burnt at the moment but despite this, and mindful that I don’t have a husband and child to run, I console myself that at least, unlike my friend, I’m not in training for some sort of fun run. If I’m busy, there’s one less trip to the gym which is (mostly) fine by me.

Truth is, a change can really be as good as a rest. Last week we met up for lunch in John Lewis cafe (posh or what?) and quickly fell into book chat. Looking at the manuscript with all the bit’s we’ve written in place, the story is really coming together. It’s following the plan we produced months ago and generally, we’re happy.

I wondered if one area we were lacking was the big “set piece” comedy scene. Book 1 has 3 or 4 of these and we love them all. Book 2 was shaping up to be more conventional. Funny in lots of places but without a real blast. Candice suggested that this wasn’t a problem and could partly be down to the much more professional way we are working. Maybe as we go, we’ll find a place to build those belly laughs in as we put the detail together.

And she was right. As we talked through some of the future writing, one of us came up with an idea. A little bit of revenge gone wrong.

And then the other took the idea an pushed it a bit.

For a few minutes we played plot-writing ping-pong with ever funnier ideas. Ignoring the glances of the pensioners enjoying modestly priced refreshment nearby, a few minutes saw at least one set-piece all but written.

If you’ve not worked like this, I can honestly say you don’t know what you are missing. People ask us how we write a book as a partnership. I can’t think how it’s possible to write one when you aren’t working with someone else.

For a start you can’t give up easily as there’s someone else to chivvy you along or pick up the baton and run with it for a bit. Mostly though, we develop ideas quickly and kill bad ones nearly as fast.

So I might be busy but up for the 40,000 word target. Just not this week.

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