Every writer’s nightmare. There is a knock on the door. You open it and immediately recognize the person standing there . You have never seen him before and you know why. Instantly familiar, he doesn’t really exist. Not really. He’s just a guy you have invented and although he may have a friend’s face or some of it, one or two of your own obsessions, all of your weaknesses or almost all, in spite of that, he quite simply doesn’t exist.
No he doesn’t. But sometimes you have to remind yourself. He knows your mother-in-law, shares a passion for gambling, slides in and out of your London. You both go to the same pub, drink the same wine. He sits in the corner. Something is occupying him. You know what it is. He has left his wife. He shouldn’t be here. He shouldn’t know the people he knows. Not at all. He’s remarkably calm, considering, considering everything. Yes, his hands are making havoc of that beer battered cod and chips. Some of the chips are on the floor. But his face has an unperturbed look, an absentminded calm. Calm of a sorts, you remind yourself. He is a man who can be violent, even if that is something he hasn’t yet discovered. Not yet. But you are going to make him discover it soon. Very soon. Page one hundred and eighty, or there about. Or perhaps even sooner—much sooner.
But then there is that knock on the door. You go down the stairs hopefully. Your publisher, your agent, fresh news from the outside world so full of people who keep their thoughts to themselves, on the inside where they belong unlike this guy who seems to have decided to live inside your brain. It’s not fair really. He is the central character and occupies the stage. Gets so much attention. For God’s sake, you have given him too much thought. Much too much. In fact that writer’s block last week, why it was his fault. Because you were trying to be too fair, much too delicate. More than he deserved, those endless shades of grey. Why is it that so many writers are so careful about fictitious characters and so frankly rubbish with real people? Look at Tolstoy, all that empathy in fiction, so impossible at Yasnaya Polyana where he was always losing his temper and failing to understand. No wonder, if you spend all your time in a solitude going over the thoughts of people who don’t exist. Does your nut in. It isn’t perhaps natural. So thank God for that knock on the door. Relieved at a bit of interruption, just a minute or two, you open the door. And there he is.
“There are a few things we must discuss,” he says ignoring the expression on your face. “ There a re a few things you MUST understand, before you add another word.”
He isn’t as calm as usual, not nearly as calm as you had imagined him to be, and you feel that there that there is a hint of cruelty in his eye…