Couch to 80k Week 2 Day 6

Cor, second week completed.

Now a word from our sponsors:

If you’ve been following, you’ll know, but if not: Couch to 80k is an 8 week writers bootcamp, requiring about 20 minutes per day (10 minutes of writing) by Tim Clare. I decided to do it to build some writing muscle and I blog my experience of doing it here.

And back to the show…

Oh, before I begin about today, let me fill you in something that I found fascinating about yesterday. The little letter I wrote in the voice of one character that opened up that character’s background? Well, I told my wife about it, and as I read it out it suddenly hit me: the family in the letter was her family. The relationships, the type of people they were, all true – albeit in the story I’d pushed and pushed those characteristics so they were in extremis (and in some cases switched the gender).

That was quite a surprise to me. Anyway today…

Two things about today, I suppose it was a catchup on what the free writes were all about (since this week has been day after day of freewriting) and when it’s good to use them. I’ve think I like the habit of them, so, when the course is complete, there’s a good chance, as best as I’m able, I’ll try and free write for 10 minutes every morning. If nothing else it unclogs some brain sauce and lets me blog.

This was the first day where I wrote a chunk of notes too. But no point repeating those, if you’re interested you should really do the entire Couch to 80k podcast for yourself.

The free write, much like yesterdays, was about diving back in to one of the previously created lists and setting a mood and using it to write about the thing from the list. The list was “items you might find in the protagonists bag” and I decided to do something funny (since I apparently have a death obsession, it’s maybe time to kick that).

I think I went wrong on the mood the moment I picked the item:

A small note book, hard backed, yellowing pages, about A5 in size, inside scribbles of a language long dead.

A smarter person than me might have realised the full comedy potential of this, instead I ended up with something a little darker. For a change, I’m gonna give you the entirety of what I’ve typed here, it’s unfinished and unvarnished, so please forgive any obvious warts. That said, if you read it, please let me know, I’m interested in what people think about what I’m doing (this is a holdover from me being an artist – you WANT to show even rough sketches to people, it’s the fastest way to learn)

So, the story:

The book sat inside the bag.

Callum had nicked it earlier. From some old doddery lady. He walked casually up behind and distracted her – making her look off in one direction, grabbed the bag and done a runner.

It was a child-like trick, but, if you pick the right person it always worked. “Excuse me luv!” Then a light tap on her opposite shoulder, she turns, you grab what you want and then you leg it.

He’d belted up the street at speed, the street was broad daylight, but it was early Sunday, so it was as empty as it’d ever be.

Once he’d gotten far enough away it was time to look and see what the winnings were – better than the lottery this. Normally.

There was the usual old lady rubbish, scented bag of sweets, grotty old monogrammed tissues (these with HPL) written on them, the old lady’s name presumably. “Hip Poorly Lady”, he thought and then laughed a little.

And below the detritus, below the wrappers, below the tissues, down where he expected to find a purse, was a book.

He sat and looked at it, the cover was leathery, but a jaundiced yellow. Stitched together with red thread – looking like someone had made it out of human skin. The bound pages where off-yellow, and … it didn’t smell like book. It smelt like acrid flesh.

Callum would have chucked the book straight away, written the whole thing off like he’d picked up a dud lottery ticket, but he’d opened it first, and looked at the insides.

He’d never seen anything like it. It was mesmerising. He didn’t recognise the letters – certainly couldn’t tell if they were words. They looked sort of like the Egyptian hieroglyphs he’d seen as a boy in the museum, but also not like that. The made him feel funny. Sort of strong. And a little bit cruel.

He shut the book. This was London, so there was plenty of places might buy a creepy old book. And he figured he could get something for it, if he found the right place. Only he wasn’t really one for book shops. Maybe Nige, his mate would know. Nige was always reading. The “Professor” they used to call him when they were kids. Until Nige knifed that kid, then they stopped calling him that.

Nige answered the door. His t-shirt revealing scars down both arms, Callum never wanted to ask, he assumed it was something his dad – a cruel man, who always smelt of drink, had done them.


“I found this book, innit. Fink it might be worth something?”


And time’s up. No podcast tomorrow, so will probably feel weirdly at a loss, but I might retry this exercise and see if I can’t more accurately nail the mood. I mean “oppressive lovecraftian horror” isn’t even remotely close to “funny”.


Author: PJ

Belfast based Comic Artist who won’t shut up on twitter.