I was twenty-four when I was hit by an overwhelming urge to write. It seemed natural to write about what I saw going on around me, and so I wrote about pubs and clubs, and the people who frequented them. I wrote about sticky carpets, toilet queues, and sexual encounters in alleyways and stairwells. I wrote about loneliness and longing, and women waking up to find last night’s make-up smeared on the pillow.
The book was called Shake Your Tailfeathers. I plunged straight in, battering it out on a portable typewriter, stream-of-consciousness style. I had no plan, no storyline, no idea what I was doing.
Oscar Wilde said, “We are all in the gutter, but some of us are looking at the stars.” Yeah, some may have been looking at the stars, but my gaze was firmly on the streets, and yes, absolutely in the gutter.
When I came across the manuscript a few years ago, I cringed in anticipation of an embarrassing read. As it turned out, there was humour mixed up with the grit and the grime, and the writing was way better than I expected. Unfortunately, there was no discernible plot.
Yeah, I had the raw talent, but knowing what it was I wanted to write and learning how to do it – that took hard work and time. Much more time than I anticipated. As it turned out, twenty five years elapsed between writing Shake Your Tailfeathers and publishing Each New Morn.