In the last few minutes I passed 150,000 words of Excultus.
I know happy news doesn’t seem to warrant Tearful Rupert, but milestones like this tend to drive home to me how things have changed. Every time I pass a big word count, I find myself remembering what used to occupy my time and my thoughts eighteen months ago.
I wouldn’t want you guys ever to see those times.
I just wish I could show you the difference.
I started East End Boy on June 13th. After long and sad years, I finally allowed myself to say “Fuck it, fanfiction…” and I typed the word ‘Greg’. Thanks to your comments and kudos, I then felt safe typing a few more words too.
Now I have my writing back.
I know that looks like the tiniest, most unassuming little sentence in the world, but it’s not. Those six words are among the happiest I’ve ever written. Once, I thought I’d never see myself type them again. Now I get to make gushy posts at you all on Tumblr.
I just wanted you all to know that I love you to pieces. You guys are the reason I’m a happy Moth again.
If you’ve ever read even a single word I’ve written, this is for you.
John Claridge’s best photograph - From 1976 to 1989, I lived in a flat on Frith Street in Soho, above Ronnie Scott’s jazz club. I went to sleep every night listening to jazz, which is alright if you like jazz, and I did. Ronnie was from east London, like me, and there were a lot of East End boys running the club. So I’d go down for a cup of tea or a glass of wine, and have a rabbit – it was like being at home.
Chet Baker came in one night in 1986, and I asked him if I could do a couple of shots before he went on. I said: “I’ve got to tell you, when I was 13, I bought the Chet Baker Quartet record with Winter Wonderland on it. Russ Freeman was the pianist … ” And Chet said, “Yeah, he was, in 1953.” He just stopped and stared, going back through his memory. And that’s when I took the picture. Then he went downstairs and did his set. He played beautifully, considering he’d lost a lot of his teeth in the gutter – the emotion and passion still came through.
It’s a haunting image, but people adore it, because that life comes through. That Soho is dying out now, turning into Disneyland. When you have corporate greed come in, everything becomes the same, and I find that very boring. I don’t want the same coffee around the world.
Just want to pop in and say your fiction is legit some of the best writing I've ever encountered. To add to the no doubt countless amounts of people urging you to publish I'd say if anything comes up on a bookshelf with your name on it I'd buy above any series that comes before.
Argh. You sweetheart. Thank you. <3
Obviously with a big project coming to its final stages, I now find myself looking ahead - figuring out what I’ll do next. Under The Rose is top priority, and when I’ve got enough of Dr Holmes together, he’ll end up on AO3 too.
But I’ll admit, I’ve spotted where East End Boy would divide very nicely into two novels.
And I know the plot of the third I would then write. (Christ.)
There’d need to be some changes, but nothing insurmountable.
I’m pretty sure any publisher would take one look at the word count of Excultus and immediately throw up all over their desk. But who knows? Stranger things have happened. <3
You’re so kind to say.
In fact, thank you to everyone who’s said such amazing things to me - it gives me all kinds of beguiling ideas. And it makes me feel like the happiest person in the world.
If I ever open a package, and there’s a book inside it with my name on, I’ll be telling you guys first. You’ll get a photo of me crying like a child. It’ll be mortifying for us all.
Hello my delicious potato. I'm asking about 'East End Boy.' 5 & 9. Please & thank you.
Hello, you saucy little crumpet. Thank you for asking. <3
5. What part was hardest to write?
The chapters where I got most nervous and antsy were the very end ones… East End Boy started as just an excited exploration for me, then suddenly I realised how many people were invested… and I realised it’d break my heart if I couldn’t deliver everybody safely through to the end… so I was a little wound up and shifty by that part.
Writing ‘The End’ ripped the soul out of me, obviously.
Weirdly, no - especially considering the way Excultus has shifted and twisted in my hands like a snake.
East End Boy ran ridiculously smoothly, looking back. It plotted and wrote itself most of the way. They just… melted into each other, and it was easy as anything. They just fell together. So I have no ‘deleted scenes’ from East End Boy at all.
Meanwhile I can’t begin to tell you the things that I’ve had to wrench away from Excultus. I’ve got an entire folder of inappropriate sex scenes. There are characters alive who should, by my plot notes, now be very dead. There’s one character who has six different possible endings, all still open. All still to decide.
“One last read-through” of my final Christmas story has just proven itself a worthy use of my time, as the spectacular difference between ‘congenial’ and ‘congenital’ saves my second-to-last chapter from flaming disaster.
Because it’s nearly Friday (and because I may have made some of you cry recently…), have a short and fluffy East End Boy-verse ficlet. This comes in response to a lovely ask -
Hello. I have a question about East End Boy. Why did Greg take Mycroft’s name? It seemed unusual in a marriage where both men have well established professional careers. Many thanks for the story. It was wonderful.
Thanks for asking, Anon! And apologies in the delay in getting back to you. I typed out a nice and tidy explanation, then realised this would be far more fun to write out. I hope you like it.
That first day - that first precious day - they spent out on the daybed on the terrace, lying together in the shade and listening to the ocean breathe.