Writing on a banana with a blue ball point pen…

Is one of the most wonderful things you will do today. It’s more satisfying than spelling your name in the air with a sparkler and even more pleasurable than peeing your initials in the snow. Imagine writing with the fanciest fountain pen on the most expensive handmade paper, whilst sitting in a cloud in your pants and socks eating chocolate truffles, and you’re getting close.

When I’m not defacing fruit, or blogging, or doing whatever it is I do for a living I’m actually in the process of writing a book. Though this I assure you is not nearly as sexy as it sounds and involves a lot of staring at  blank pages in between making some coffee, and then walking the dogs, and then having some lunch, and then doing a bit of tidying up…

The working title (if working is the right word to use) is:

“The Waiting Room”

I’ve included a short synopsis further down the page.

As I am sort of – a part time writer come full time procrastinator, I’ve been invited to take part in a writer’s daisy chain by Crysse Morrison, a friend of mine. She is a writer of drama and fiction, an award winning poet, and a successful published author;  who periodically hosts writer’s workshops  in splendid tavernas by the sea in Greece. She was a huge influence in me starting to take my writing a bit more seriously, and you know, try a bit harder and what have you, when I’m not watering the plants that is.



Anyway I agreed to take part in this blogging experiment, which involves following on from Crysse’s blog last week, and introducing some fellow writer/bloggers to carry the Cornetto next week. A bit like the hundred year old cake batter I was once handed at the back of Maths one day; hopefully this connection will  continue to be baked by subsequent blogger/writers for all of eternity, or at least until the robots eventually gain consciousness, enslave us all and take over the world.

The deal is that I’ve got to answer four questions in this blog; so here goes.

Number One: What am I working on?

I’ve got some shelves that I keep meaning to put up, and some lights bulbs to change, but that involves borrowing a pair of ladders so I haven’t got round to that yet. The book I am working on (when I’m not doing household chores) is like a big bit of granite sitting in the spare room that I am slowly but surely chipping away at, one word at a time. It’s a story I literally dreamt up one day, snoozing on a sun lounger in Paros, Greece.

It’s a story about Martin, a fairly average bloke who wakes up one morning to find out he is dead. Of course he doesn’t realise this immediately as he is sat with a numbered ticket in his hand at the back of a very long queue in a huge busy room; one that seems to have been last decorated in a fit of orange related anger back in the seventies.

The obvious disappointment of the news of his untimely demise is not improved by the knowledge that not only is he dead but he is trapped in this bureaucratically nightmarish world of the ‘Waiting Room’, a place of apparently never-ending queues, limitless paperwork and rubber stamps. This underground non-governmental department, so unknown that even Royalty are surprised when they wake up in the VIP rooms with comfy sofas and a fast-track pass, is one of the biggest underfunded, understaffed and overly complicated secret dead-people-processing plants in the world.

Unfortunately, Martin is the victim of a dreadful clerical error in the system, due perhaps to an accidental tick in the wrong box by a rushed paramedic heading for his break, or maybe the ill-placed signature of a tired surgeon, nobody knows. A death certificate has been produced regardless of the fact that Martin’s body lays very much alive in a hospital bed surrounded by family, friends, tubes and machines; whilst the rest of him is patiently waiting for his number to be called.

When the mistake is eventually discovered Martin has to make a decision of whether to bide his time and take the advice of the (soon to be his nemesis) Director General of the department and have a cup of tea whilst he waits for his eventual death, or take matters into his own hands and attempt the never before achieved challenge of changing the records.

Due to the tight medically related time restrictions set for the correction of any mistakes made; a seemingly infinite number of hoops to jump through, and a Director General with her reputation based on the efficiency of her department to contend with who will stop at nothing to preserve the accuracy and auditability of her paperwork, Martin discovers that not only has he to beat death at its own game but more difficult than that he has to find a way to beat the system, and his time is running out.

Number Two:    How does my work differ from others of its genre?

Well to be honest I haven’t even worked out what genre this book is; every time I pick it up it feels slightly different. One day it’s a humour/horror, and the next a Sci-fi/fantasy. It’s a bit of a casserole at the moment, and will probably stay that way, it might even end up as metafiction.  Who knows?

I guess what makes it different is that nobody could write the book of what is in my head but me. If you’ve read any of the fifty blog posts on this site you’ll know that my mind works in a  slightly peculiar way, and a lot of that is reflected in the book.

It’s definitely got a lot of black humour, real experiences and frighteningly possible situations, interlaced with philosophical ideas, conspiracy theories, and of course my own half-baked ideas about life. There might be some sexy bits in it, but I haven’t got around to them yet.

I showed some of the book to some people who know about these things and they said it was quite Kafkaesque, which of course I was very honoured by, so much so that I even googled Kafkaesque to find out what it meant.

Number three: Why do I write what I do?

Through frustration with modern society more than anything. I am very inquisitive about the world around me, when I am told I must do something I am immediately suspicious and need to know why. The longer I spend away from the UK the more frustrating I find this when I return. We are rarely told why, only that our job is to conform, keep quiet and watch more TV (or go to the BINGO!), keep spending and let those that are in charge do their jobs. A lot of my writing is questioning this, investigating this, and asking why?

I’m fascinated by the way society works and the way that we interact with each other; I’m also incredibly interested in the way the media abuses its power to sustain fragility and insecurity.

My writing is based on real life experiences and thought processes, as Albert Camus said “Fiction is the lie through which we tell the truth”.

Number four: How does my writing process work?

I tend to write at a steady fifty miles an hour even in a thirty zone, and sometimes I can keep this up for days, but often what happens is that as I try to slip into third gear to get over a bit of a hill or past a slow moving truck I accidentally move into first gear, and then the engine makes an annoying sound and leaps out of the bonnet onto the passenger seat, carrying the gear box and my momentum with it. It can take days, sometimes even months to get things back in working order before I can even contemplate a shopping list. So my writing process tends to be a lot of all, followed by a frustratingly large amount of not at all.

I write notes in my little book all day long, or on fag packets, or napkins, or fruit. These help me to push these interfering thoughts to one side whilst I try to continue what it is that I am doing. If we are out for a beer and I spend the evening writing things down, the chances are it wasn’t something you said (unless you happened to be very interesting), it’d just be something I read on a lorry that drove past, or a thought bubble that had appeared in my head that led me down an elaborate chain of thoughts and away from the conversation we were having.

I dream a lot as well, and yes I do realise other people’s dreams are about as interesting as other people’s holiday photos. But I dream very vivid colourful and often narrated dreams, where a voice over explains in a Hollywood manner what is going on. This often occurs between the alarm going off at 6am and my final press of the snooze button at about 7.00am. This hour of lazy doziness is sometimes a very creative and productive time, and often it can take all morning to remember and write down what I had thought up.

Ok that’s me done.

Next Monday the following bloggers and writers extraordinaire will be blogging on a similar theme, so head over to their websites to have a read.

Becky Cavender:

Becky Cavender is a freelance writer, artist, and single mom living in the Pacific Northwest, USA. She has lived in five countries on four continents — including Myanmar, where she published a guidebook for expats moving there. When she’s not writing poetry, traveling, interviewing inspiring creative types, or working on her novel, you can find her at any of the best local coffee joints sucking up her caffeine. You can read her stuff on Huffington Post or on her website.

Philippa Ramsden:

Scotswoman Philippa Ramsden is a development and humanitarian professional, writing in any leisure time. She had been to Asia only once when she stepped off a plane in Kathmandu in 2000 to take up a new job, with no idea what to expect – and has been in Asia since! She has lived and worked in Nepal, Mongolia, India, Sri Lanka and currently lives in Yangon, Myanmar in fascinating times.  She blogs as Feisty Blue Gecko. http://feistybluegeckofightsback.wordpress.com

Cheers and Beers


2 thoughts on “Writing on a banana with a blue ball point pen…

Add yours

  1. Thanks, Cliff – I thoroughly enjoyed reading your pitstop writing on the blog tour, and found the opportunity really useful myself to reflect on my writing. Thanks for throwing the challenge, from a fellow blog tourist 🙂

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