May saw me return to writing after a very long break. I have started writing a series of blog posts to support my self-help book ‘Get Over It’, which I’m enjoying. On the fiction front, I decided to return to ‘The Darkwood Mysteries’ as it’s a comfortable place to be.
I have been reading ‘City of Sin’ by Catherine Arnold–a nice bit of history around London’s relationship with sex over the centuries, and ‘Sins of the City of the Plain’ by ‘Jack Saul’ (probably not actually by him), which is a contemporaneous account of the notorious rent boy, Jack Saul’s experiences. Essentially Victorian gay smut. So, some titillating reading.
No, Darkwood and Hobbs are not suddenly going to have a series of sexcapades (disappointingly for them), but sex is a big part of all our lives, and it’s often when we’re at our most honest, and reading about what the Victorians got up to behind closed doors is sometimes much more informative than the dry accounts reported in newspapers and diaries, especially socially and use of language. While some of the sexy talk seems a little juvenile by today’s sexy talk, a time-travelling sexplorer would be able to have just as much fun in 1800s London. A fun return to research! But, on the actual writing side of it all I decided against a blank page…
I made a return to a work in progress, rather than make a fresh start, in the hope that being surrounded by existing words might coax the new words out. Thankfully, they have been coming out. I’ve always been a bit uncertain what I should do with this blog. I want them to be more involved than my social media posts, and as writing isn’t the greatest spectator interest, I guess the most appropriate use of these posts is to show you what I have on the writing desk. I’m a bit wary of doing it as I know how many errors slip past me without having another set of eyes to watch over me, but at the risk of showing myself up with some shared bad writing, here’s a sneak peak at the first draft opening of ‘The Darkwood Mysteries (18): The Disaster Man’:
This is a tale I have been reluctant to share. As I work my way through the remembrances of past encounters at Miss Darkwood’s side I have found myself enjoying the friendships and acquaintances of the past, committing the accounts of crimes and criminals to account, and dragging the supernatural from the fog for your inspection and awe in chronicling events that history will undoubtedly forget. Yet for my storytelling to be complete I can’t escape happenings most personal to us. For the endings I will one day have to write to have meaning, to resonate with you—the reader—it is necessary not just to document the accomplishments, victories and the pride but to revisit the failures, the losses, and the torments.
There was much pain between this and the very last tale I will have to tell, and much of it can be traced to one event in this story, one that might cause you to question your opinion of your narrator. Much of this account has been written for my own unburdening, for as much as the dilemma this tale presents was aimed by its orchestrators at Miss Darkwood, its telling is an exorcism of guilt for me. It will be but a temporary respite, for it is right for me to carry the weight of my wrong-doing until my body gives up beneath it. I expose myself to you in this tale, for your judgement. I feel both liberated at this confession, yet fearful of revealing my fall. For what I am responsible for in this tale—despite the moral arguments against or for my actions—it was the first step on a path encircled by shadows…
I hope that’s a nice little tease for you!
Now, back to the keyboard I go.