Tuesday, January 08, 2008


Tomorrow I'll start the first draft of the 6th Jimmy Coates book.

I have my plans set out in front of me, my notebooks open at key pages in my planning, and a whole stack of music ready to go.

And I have my work diary. While I'm working on a book I always keep a separate diary to record how many words I write each day, what I listen to, what I eat and what time I finish work that night.

At the end of each week I work out a whole load of stats like total words written that week and my average daily word count.

This works great. It keeps me motivated and gives me a laugh when I look back at the diaries I've kept for previous books. Nothing changes. I go to bed too late, eat omelettes, pasta and sushi (not all at once) and in the music column there's only one thing: OP.

OK, every now and again something else crops up, but it's very unusual. Dating all the way back to writing my first book in 2003, the right hand column of my work diaries reads 'OP' all the way down the page.

OP - Oscar Peterson.

Whenever I'm asked, 'What keeps you writing?' or 'What's your inspiration?', I can give a decent answer - usually a true one. But not the whole truth. Because the truth is: Oscar Peterson.

And every time I finished a book, I always planned to try again to send a copy to Oscar Peterson, just to say thank you. To show him that his great art in some way created something else more humble that he might never otherwise know about.

Oscar Peterson died just before Christmas. I never managed to send him a book. And as you can see, it's taken me a few weeks to bring myself to write about him here. I don't think I've quite absorbed the information yet.

I can't help thinking that however many thousands more hours of his music I listen to while I'm working over the next months or years or decades, the rest of my books will be written in a sort of silence.

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