BACK TO THINKING ABOUT WRITING
I tend to work on core ideas for a long time. This doesn’t mean that I don’t have fresh thoughts as I write—I most certainly do—but it seems to be my habit to come up with a concept, and then store it away in my mind while it matures (or dies). There is a vast difference between an initial thought and a well developed idea. The first is a word or a line. The second contains much of the structure of the final story.
How long is “a long time?” Well, in the U.S. it seems to be a matter of days or weeks—certainly as interpreted by the media. In my case, think years or decades. This isn’t a deliberate strategy. It is more the way things have worked out. As I have mentioned before, my subconscious—while both creative and hard-working—seems to have a mind of its own, and is inclined to work at its own deliberate pace. It is also an independent sort of thing. Add in my own peculiar sense of time, and I guess you could say I’m slow; or you could be kinder and regard me as thorough. I have no strong views on the matter; but my sense is that I am more tortoise than hare.
Last night I tried to watch Foyle’s War—arguably my favorite TV series—but not only was it a repeat, which I was more than happy to watch, but Public Television people were trying to raise money during it. Now clearly the fund raising formula works, because Public TV seems to be thriving, but I regard it as cruel and unusual punishment—and switched off. There has got to be a better way…
I then wondered what makes Foyle’s War so extraordinarily good. Apart from being vastly entertaining, it is a master-class to write.
- It is extraordinarily tightly written with at least as much communicated by a look or a glance as by the spoken word. In short, it deals with nuance and subtlety and appeals to one’s intelligence.
- It is brilliantly cast and acted.
- It is set against the background of WWII
- It’s setting’s are as authentic and believable as mortal man can devise.
- It’s plots are always ingenious.
- It is delightfully unsentimental.
- Though it deals with murder and other crimes, it projects a core of decency.
Well, clearly the above observations don’t do Foyle’s War justice, but they led me to a breakthrough thought about the financial thriller I have been gestating.
I won’t tell you the idea itself—that would spoil the fun—but I will tell you that I think seismic changes are taking place in our current system of capitalism which Americans as a whole have not woken up to; and which are rarely discussed.
Most of us crave a return to the traditional economy and institutions which we have been told made the U.S. into the economic powerhouse it is is today—and yet there is strong evidence that we have not been as well served as we thought; and have been surviving largely on myth.
But who wants to think about such disturbing notions!