Last time (longer ago than I intended) I mentioned I was reading William Gibson’s novel Neuromancer. Well, not content with that, I followed with the sequels Count Zero and Mona Lisa Overdrive.
I first read all three a shade over twenty years ago. They were futuristic then, and remain so today. The world of the ‘sprawl trilogy’ is one that still feels like it could happen a few decades into our future; frighteningly realistic, all Gibson didn’t predict is the expansion of the mobile phone (although one could argue that a deck is just that but on a larger scale, a sci-fi laptop) and the constant need for continual updates, one of which is probably running in the background as I write or you read.
Back then, Cyberpunk was my genre of choice, although it could be argued that its heyday was over by the early 90’s. Not only the novels, but there were also the role-playing games, such as Cyberpunk itself and Shadowrun. The latter combined cyberpunk and fantasy with brilliant effect (although the matrix was strangely dull, a conflict of colours and numbers that never truly gripped). Many Sunday afternoons were spent playing Shadowrun, and it remains my favourite RPG to this day.
A friend once said role-playing was a natural extension of reading, one where you could be the hero, affect the plot in a multitude of ways. Many nights in the pub have been spent reminiscing about the old times, talking about how we took on orc hordes, or had a bar fight with troll. Role-playing was a major part of my teens and early twenties, and would later be a reason to get all the lads together for a special occasion (my 40th birthday is one I’ll never forget).
Books do the same. When I began Count Zero, I could remember where I was when I first read it; I could even recall one Saturday night when I ordered a pizza, and I’m sure I could smell it as I read. Very nostalgic. Not only that, but this re-read revealed more depths to the story than I’d originally thought; after all these years, it felt like a sharper read, the story lean and focused, so much more than just a variety of good ideas strung together.
That’s why I like books. Not only can they take you away from somewhere, but they can also take you back. People recall where they were when the Berlin Wall came down, I can tell you exactly where I was when I first read David Gemmell's Legend (loaned from the library one Tuesday afternoon in 1987, it went with me on a school trip the next day).
Writing’s the same. Although I’m less specific about dates, when it goes well, it feels brilliant. If it’s not going so good, it becomes a struggle, but once that’s bettered, it feels brilliant. So far this year, I’ve wrote every day, whether it be a line or a page, and the sense of achievement is great. It’s not just a case of putting pen to paper, or finger to key; the hardest thing is putting my backside in the chair to do either of those. With all of life’s distractions, it’s easy to put it off until tomorrow; I once read somewhere that ‘it’s easier not to write’, and that’s absolutely true. I might still have many episodes of recorded TV to watch, but I’ve finished editing my book and drafted two short stories. Guess what? It feels brilliant. Writers write, end of story.