Writing from the gut

I spent much of this morning watching a live-action sequel to Alien - a doctor poking my belly to shift the internal view of my stomach on his black and white monitor. "You see that short fat worm? That's your appendix." It all looked quite peacable, this mass of guts of mine. Maybe all writers should get to view their stomachs in such a way. If such a thing is natural, then we can give free rein to whatever comes out of our heads, knowing the surface is merely a charade and all the interesting stuff is hidden.

Yesterday I swallowed metres of a long black tube, a light and claw at one end of it - a gastroscopy. I keep learning new words as the National Health Service examines my insides piece by piece. And it gives me fresh pause to ponder how much my outer life gets put into my books.

I've written many, many drafts of the new novel I am now calling Cromozone. Everything but the basic scenario and the characters has changed. One thing that has suddenly become paramount in the book, fundamental to the plot though it never appeared in any previous version, is the unknown state of the lead character's stomach, in which something wild is very probably happening.

Maybe my own stomach's just playing up as I bring this novel to term, after a twenty year gestation period!

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