Auntie Doris’s Road to Publication #5: Searching for the Sweetcorn


Writing is easy. As far as I am concerned. Or at least it has been since I passed over to the other side. All I have to have is an idea and off I go. Manifesting myself in the body of my nephew Michael, I just sit him down in front of his computer and the words just flow out. I don’t hold with all this “I can’t think of any ideas” lark either. Everyone’s heads are crammed full of ideas. Aren’t they?  They must be having ruddy thoughts otherwise they wouldn’t exist. It’s standard Cartesian philosophy: “I think therefore I am.” Therefore if you don’t think, you’re not. Seeing as you are, you must be thinking. So all you have to do is write down what you are thinking.  Don’t worry about waiting for the first thought that comes into your head. You had it ages ago. You are already thinking. Write that down. And away you go.

Clever clogs Michael calls that “Stream of Consciousness.” I don’t care if it’s a stream of pittle. All the best writers agree; write it down, and you can edit it later.

And that’s where the ruddy problem arises. If you get into the habit of relieving yourself of that stream in front of the computer, sitting down and letting it flow once a day for a long period of time, you end up with a right ruddy sackload of writing. And a lot of it will be shite. But within the shite there will be a few golden kernels of sweetcorn. If you are a particularly wise and knowledgeable person like me, there will be quite a few golden kernels of sweetcorn, but even I produce a fair amount of shite just to squeeze those kernels out. Searching for the sweetcorn is quite a task.

When you do finally decide that it is time to edit, you suddenly realise that you have set yourself a bit of a task. I am not saying that I have bitten off more than I can chew. Far from it. I always was a good chewer, ever since I got my National Health dentures in the 1940s. But it is a real chew, with loads of gristle, and one or two bones to pick out if you don’t want them to get stuck in your throat.

(I am so good at them metaphor things me, I hardly ever get them mixed either. With my hand on the steering wheel I can drive any Clapham Omnibus you like all the way down the Grand Union Canal. And you can put that in your pipe and smoke it!)

Any road. My first thought when faced with all that editing was to just let my nephew get on with it. After all, he is the one who is supposed to have gone to university. But I had overlooked one important factor. He is bone idle and the world’s expert at avoiding anything difficult. That’s why he hasn’t got much further than about 1903 over the last five weeks. So it looks like I am going to have to do more than just give him a boot up the back passage. I am going to have to take on some of the work myself. I should have known. If you want a job doing properly, ask a ruddy woman!

So… If there are any writers out there who follow the rule “write it all down and edit it later” and have a few tips and whatnots for the editing process. I would be grateful for the assistance. I will return the favour with a few of my own tips and whatnots for writing shite with extra sweetcorn.

Auntie Doris’s Road to Publication #4: The Oxford University Press

oup1To the chief commissioning editor
Oxford University Press
Oxford University

Dear Sir (or Madam)
My name is Auntie Doris, I died in 1995 at the age of 81. However, since I arrived on the other side I have developed the ability to contact the land of the living by manifesting myself through the body of my nephew, Michael. Although he is a ruddy useless so and so, I have managed to use him to write a number of little homilies and articles on a range of topics, including life after death, swearing, astrology, tarot reading and metaphysics.
He has put most of these pieces online for me, and this “blog” thing that he set up now has literally dozens of followers from all over the world, even as far away as the antipodes, (and as an educated person you will know that you can’t get any further away than them without actually getting nearer to where you were in the first place. Unless you blast off into ruddy space of course)
Any road, what with me now being internationally famous, I have got our Michael started with editing some of the articles into a proper book. “The Auntie Doris Years” which is my guide to the 20th century with stories about all the main players such as Hitler, Charlie Chaplin and Alexander Fleming, mixed with stories about people in my family, such as my Raymond, His brothers Cyril, John and Bernard, and my sister Pearl, (who didn’t speak to me for about ten years because she thought that she was entitled to that Chinese Tea Caddy that mother wanted me to have after she died)
The articles are all written, but they just need editing and tittivating up a bit. Our Michael, being the lazy lump he is, is taking his ruddy time over it. Mind you, he works for the council and is getting on a bit himself now, so he hasn’t got the energy that a younger man might have.
I was wondering if you could give him a boost by saying that you would publish the damned thing when he has finished it. Perhaps under the title of “The Oxford Auntie Doris.” I’ll leave the finer details like that to you though.
If he thought he was working towards something like that, he might get his ruddy skates on. He has always liked Oxford University, anywhere that they taught, Thomas Moore, Edward Gibbon, Graham Greene, Billy Bunter and Harry Potter would be right up his street.
There would be no need for a cash advance or anything. As I said, I am dead and our Michael already has a job, so he doesn’t need any money.
Then again. If you were able to offer him somewhere to write, some old ivory tower that you are not using, I am sure that I could help him to earn his keep by doing a couple of lectures a week on the paranormal or something. He might even stretch to marking a few essays. He is a qualified academic. He got a 2.2 in philosophy and religious studies from Newcastle University in the 1980s.
So there you go. I look forward to working with you in the near future, and you should rest assured that when you bring the book out, it will earn your university a packet. You might even be able to bring them tuition fees down on the strength of it. Perhaps
Auntie Doris.