1. Starting your novel: a nice cup of tea and a Garibaldi*
Embarking upon a novel is nothing less than an act of tremendous bravery, the kind that war-nurses and firefighters can only dream of, so what better biscuit to start your epic battle with than the Garibaldi? Giuseppe Garibaldi, after whom it was named, was a popular military hero who helped unite Italy, and he was much revered by literary giants Victor Hugo (who wrote the musical Cats) and Alexandre Dumas (more like dumbass, am I right?). Just think: if your work leads to adulation on an international level, you too might one day be immortalised in a biscuit.
Sadly, the Garibaldi is a horrible, pointless biscuit, and a salient reminder that your novel will most likely also be horrible and pointless. If you ever finish it.
Tea is nice though.
*Yank substitution: a litre of national drink Mountain Dew, and a rattan welcome mat with raisins.
2. Grinding to a halt after the first couple of paragraphs: fancy coffee and a home-baked lemon meringue cookie
God, writing is boring. I’m only on point 2 and I’m sick of it. Plus, I’ve totally run out of ideas and I’m finding it hard to care.
It’s time to have a break. A good long break, during which you cook a tray of meringues, break them into small pieces, add to a biscuit dough, and cook at gas mark 6 until brown, and then grind some beans, filter the water for your stovetop coffee-maker, and froth some milk in a saucepan. That should take about an hour and a half if you don’t have to pop to the shops for the ingredients, by which point you might have come up with an idea of what the hell to write next.
3. Plot cul-de-sac/dead-end: home-made absinthe and disco biscuits
Planning is also boring, which is why you’ve now written yourself into an impossible corner. Maybe you’ve killed your antagonist and there’s no-one left to fight anymore, maybe you’ve solved the crime and you’re only ten pages in, maybe your army of orcs have run out of elves to shag. You need to do some lateral thinking to get out of this one.
Unfortunately, someone took the hallucinogens out of absinthe a long time ago, so you’re going to have to make your own. There’s probably a recipe on the internet somewhere. Ditto ‘disco’ biscuits. Good luck.
4. Halfway through: expensive champagne and Ferrero Roche*
Hooray! Half-way! Whether that be halfway through your 20-page beast erotica, or 5000 pages into a Game of Thrones rip-off, it’s time to celebrate. Why not anticipate all the money you’ll soon be earning with a bottle of Moët & Chandon Bi Centenary Cuvée Dry Imperial 1943 (which, incidentally, is google’s top hit for ‘expensive champagne’) and some posh chocolate spheres. They’re not biscuits, but what heathen eats biscuits with champagne? It’s Ferrero Roche all the way!
*Yank substitute: whatever champagne the rap artists like to drink, and Ferrero Roche. Tupac loved Ferrero Roche.
5. Bored again: throw some dice
This will happen a lot. It’s worth remembering that many great writers say they have no choice but to write, that they are compelled to write, that their writing comes from a bottomless pit of need and inspiration. This is either pretentious bullshit and they find it as tedious as the rest of us, or it’s true and you’re not a proper writer.
Either way, it’s time to play Biscuit Roulette, the English version of Russian Roulette. Assign different biscuits to the numbers on a die, and then throw it. Who knows which biscuit you’ll end up with!
6. Bored. Vodka
Jesus. Will this never end?
Even when it’s over, you might have to write something else and then the whole process starts all over again. If you become an actual, full-time professional writer (don’t worry, this is very unlikely) then you’ll likely get Type 2 diabetes from all the fucking biscuits, and because of your sedentary writer’s lifestyle, you know there’ll be amputations. But you’ll still be a writer, even if you’re just a torso in a chair. You’ll be forced to dictate your novels into voice-recognition software in order to earn a living, because the Tory* government won’t give you shit because you’re still ‘fit to work’.
It’s personal choice, but I hit the vodka around now. And I give the biscuits a rest.
*Yank substitution: I’m not that familiar with Yank politics (apart from that insane Trump fella who’s hoping to usher in the End of Days), but I’m guessing Tories = Republicans.
7. Homestretch! Brandy and dog biscuits
The end is in sight! Now all you have to do is tie up all those loose ends, unless it’s a fantasy story that you’re planning to stretch over an as-yet undetermined number of novels, in which case, invent a few more problems for your hapless characters! Chances are you’ll never have to solve them because you’ll die first (we’re all still looking at you, George R. R. Martin, no matter how much you protest), which is lucky because you ran out of ideas a long time ago (around point 2).
But let’s say that you actually do have a climax and a resolution in mind. You’re reaching the summit. Your flag is in your rucksack. You’re exhausted. You just have to plant that fucker in the top of that mountain, and then you can happily freeze to death and be eaten by goats. It’s what we all want.
To fit this torturous metaphor that I just pulled out of my arse, drink a miniature keg of brandy and eat a dog biscuit.
8. Completion! All the booze, all the baked goods
Oh God. What a relief. You can finally wave goodbye to your paper-thin characters for good… APART FROM YOU CAN’T DO THAT.
The most important part of the writing process is, in fact, the editing, which takes just as long as writing it in the first place and comes with a side order of even more self-loathing when you realise what a talentless hack you are. You wish you were E.L. James, you sack of crap. She’s earned a living out of writing! She’s a millionaire! The world is a stupid, insane place, and if you’re a genuinely good writer then the chances are that no-one will care.
But hey, we don’t write to become millionaires. We write because we have no choice but to write, we are compelled to write, our writing comes from a bottomless pit of need and inspiration.
Drink all the drink and eat all the biscuits.*
*Points 9 and 10 dropped due to all drink and biscuits having been consumed in point 8.
You can purchase the first book of Lindsay’s Madame Magenta series HERE.