Thursday, July 11, 2013


I have this manuscript novel.  Well, half a manuscript. It has been around a long, long time – years. It lurks in the cyber version of a writer’s bottom drawer where abandoned projects gather to whimper and suck their thumbs. It is so old that there is even a paper version in a ring-binder. The only thing that keeps this manuscript alive and out of the dustbin is that somewhere in the back of my mind is the feeling that there is a spark still glowing.  

It is a murder mystery story, set in Burma. That much is certain.  I have re-written just about everything else, several times. I have changed names. Moved the action decades back and forth. Which meant changing clothes, manners, scenes, language, even cars.  In my dreams I imagined the book to be optioned by Merchant Ivory, so I planned beautiful people, elegance, glitter and romance. Of course the writing style had to match that kind of book.  But perhaps it should be more James Bond-ish?  Zippier and action-packed, something like what my uncle Buzz used to call “bang bang, kiss kiss” – although Buzz didn’t mean what that expression has probably changed to mean today. Although – hmm, there are possibilities in that. 

I have a victim – the diplomatic corpse of the title. There’s a detective and he has a name and a history of sorts. There are thirteen chapters, 40,000+ words. It’s way past time for another victim, so perhaps I should kill someone off back a bit, at around 20,000 words  – but who? And why?  The story has been stuck there so long, more or less forgotten, that it’s become ridiculous, a joke. Call myself a writer? Baaah. But now I have been confronted by a challenge. 

An on-line organisation called Kiwi Writers has challenged members to finish a languishing, stalled project during August. I’m thinking about it – perhaps another 40,000 words would be about right. That’s 1,300 words a day, every day, for a month.  It should be a doddle (fingers crossed behind my back).  And if I get a move on and finish the must-do jobs currently on hand, I should be ready by August 1 to start hauling The Diplomatic Corpse back to life in some form or another.



  1. But you must finish this. I love books about diplomats and I love books about corpses. I’ve just read a book with six corpses. I quite enjoyed it but the writer was good only at corpses, and corpses of thugs at that. A diplomatic death would have lifted it to another plane altogether. I ‘m glad you have a detective; I like them either grumpy or disobedient. There’s so much twaddle fiction on the shelves of bookshops. Have you noticed how many bad writers have a PhD? You never write twaddle so please finish your book. Yes – kill off someone else – someone you’re a bit tired of. It doesn’t matter why – just do it. You’ll feel the better for it and you can think of a reason later. Good writing!

  2. How wonderful to get such an enthusiastic response Jane! You can imagine how important that can be, especially with this particular manuscript, dog-eared and curling at the edges as it is, metaphorically speaking. Yes, I'm energised, and hope to get on with it, starting August 1 if not before. A little murderous mayhem to relieve the winter blues ...