Love Letters from the Gutter

The Pink Collection #1 - L'hôtel Montesquieu

Dear Button,

It is now four weeks since I arrived in Lyon and despite my best efforts I have found very little trace of you. I've tried everything, from following the trail of bureaucracy you left behind, to passing hours sitting outside a certain café I was told you enjoyed, to climbing the eight hundred steps to the top of Fourviere and screaming your name out over the city. I am ashamed to say I even entered the basilica, offered up a candle to the Virgin Mary, and for the first time in my life I prayed. All I got for my troubles was a speck of hot wax in my eye, and  a waddle of worried looking Chinese tourists wondering if after I had finished screaming out your name would I throw myself a thousand feet down on top of my words. Maybe I wish I had... I do.  But there I go again! Saying the things which probably drove you away in the first place. God, is France really preferable to me? I must be a rotten soul.

I heard from Scott yesterday and he says that you are not lost but gone. Of course that hurt and I tried all morning to hate him for it but couldn't. I suppose that really I know he's right, but I so wanted him to tell me something else... even if it was just an outright lie - I wouldn't have minded. Why is the truth always so depressing? I think also that Scott is relieved I'm all the way over here. No more smokey drunken nights, him staying up babysitting me and desperately trying not to fall asleep to my pitiful sobbing and sudden fits of desperation. The night before leaving I actually smashed a glass ashtray right into the side of my head. I wanted to somehow show him the hurt that was on the other side of my skin. But rather than get his sympathy I think it gave him a secret thrill, seeing the 'man who doesn't believe in love' swallowed up in her jaws and crushed just below the point of death. That's the worst thing about it... living on in excruciating pain. Fuck, I don't know! I am confused. I've lost my bearings and all the stabilizing factors that were in my life now seem all wibbly wobbly. I'm no longer sure if the next footstep will tramp me on to better days or send me crashing through the floorboards??? I'm lost, Button... I'm so completely fucking lost. My days now have more tears than anything else.

And so, in a final desperate bid to reach you, I send out this SOS and hope that by some miracle of wind it finds its way to your feet. I lay it here, outside L'Hôtel Montesquieu, your last known place of stay. If ever you do return... and if ever you find this letter and would like to tell me something in return, leave me a reply under the lion's left paw at the base of the King Louis XIV statue at Place Bellecour. I will visit often and I will come with hope. And when all hope is gone, I'll cover my eyes and pray. Hail Mary.

The carrier of disaster that I am,

       Enola Gray. X


  1. This seems like the start to something wonderful. Can't wait to see what happens.

    The Kingdom Comes,

  2. Doctor!!! I think these letters could turn out to be painkillers. I also think that they may very well end up as some of the greatest stuff I've done. We'll see... XXX

  3. Love is pain.

    I think Brian would agree...

  4. This is beautiful! Who needs Barbara Cartland anyway ;-)

  5. The WORLD needs Babs Cartland. Now more than ever!

    Or so her ghost tells acquaintances of mine.

    On my desk top this looks like it was written on brown parchment (a la The Bible). On the laptop it looks like pink toilet paper that has been dried out. Which is very Babs. Clearly you are channeling her.

    Intriguing iceberg, with a suggestion of interesting characters and events to come, not least the mysterious 'You'.

  6. I've just bought my friend a box set of Babs (with some other Mills & Boon). He's doing a bit of a stretch, and I felt that the time he has on his hands may help him to close read these epoch-defining novels and get to the essential truths within.

    Is "the man who doesn't believe in love" destined to follow the path of "the fated man", ever waiting for some unattainable love?

  7. John, just a very quick for now as I'm in a bit of a rush. No, this project will be very different from WFJ and needs to be to lay it to rest. The characters will be very different and as more letters are published this character will find his own feet and way of expressing himself and thinking. This tale will be much more grounded in reality (i think). As yet I have no story. All I know is that someone is leaving letters around town and wanting a reply. I've two other preconceived ideas, and I know what one of the main themes of the work will be. But no, it will be a completely different pêrson to Tristram.

    There will be a series of almost daily posts (just to get us off and running) and then it'll calm down into two posts a week (between the other genre shorts). As I'm itching to write these letters, and difficult not to write the first hundred or so in one mammoth sitting, I'm confident that good stuff will come. For me the best stuff always comes when I'm impassioned and don't have time to think. X

    (other replies to follow this evening...)

  8. 'As I'm itching to write these letters, and difficult not to write the first hundred or so in one mammoth sitting'

    I am so jealous that you can produce like that. I'll connect the dots for weeks just to produce one page. Perhaps thats why I haven't finished anything yet. But, one day.

    The Kingdom Comes,
    Dusty Rose.

  9. Black Acrylic,

    In answer to your question I will put a scenario your way:

    Imagine sitting on the toilet. Your arse has just opened up like a trap-door and the entire contents of your stomach have slopped out. You know it's a messy one because flies are falling from the ceiling dead. It's also sticky and you know from experience this is gonna take the entire roll of paper in the holder, the bog brush, and at least half a dozen good flushes to put right. You stretch out for that cheap pink toilet paper (that Joe thinks my words should be written on), and to your horror three squares pull off before the tube spins empty on the holder. I think a Babs book could come in quite handy then... don't you? X

  10. Joe, channelling Babs... what a career stopper! Imagine though, someone one day seriously says: "You know what, your writing reminds me a lot of Barbara Cartlands."

    What would you do? (other than snap your pen and cry)


  11. Hey Again Doctor,

    Everyone has their own way to work, and you'll find yours and also the way that allows you to finish something. I've had that problem too, and still have it, but I found that for me the responsibility of having people to post to is what I need. If no-one was waiting for it I may never get further than the idea in my head. It's no coincidence why I keep setting up blog structures which will finally be able to be put into print with the minimum of tinkering. That's because I know that once I commit myself to posting I will, and I never again want to do the amount of writing I did on Memoires and after two years have a bigger mess to sort through than if I had not written anything at all. In my work you can look at the sites as sketchbooks. Not in the sense that I post my first draft (i don't, I spend a lot of time on each post and they are all drafted at least three times before being posted) but a sketchbook in that the ideas are forming as I write, and I am working a little more on the plot each day between posts. For most writers that's a very private thing, but for me I like to see and show people the history of where and how the ideas came. Another interesting thing to note is how the voice of my main character will be gradually found over the first few weeks, and that come the end the first posts will not quite feel like they came from the character anymore. John is right to mention "will this be another Tristram" as it will have started in a similar tone to the first posts of WFJ. And where that went of and became Tristram, so this voice will go off in a different direction and find its character.

    Not many people realize this either, but for the first ten posts or so Tristram never even had a name. It was an anonymous author writing the posts. Then when I had the idea of him phoning the hospital the first time I suddenly realized: Fuck, he needs a name to be addressed as by the nurse! And so the post was chucked down and suddenly I was searching through name books and racking my mind for names that could give some clues to who this man was. Even John's surname never came about until very late in the day, and it was Joe who helped me put that name together after I mailed and said he needed a surname. So I really do not sketch out characters or events beforehand... I sketch as I write, and that works for me.


  12. Well, I bought my friend a copy of The Dangerous Dandy as a Christmas present last year. I must ask if she's ever been in that situation you just described so evocatively.

  13. I love your method of writing, given that I’m the opposite and hate to show anything, not only until it’s finished but until it’s got a publisher.

    BUT - if the Abigail book ever comes out then a whole cast of characters will have come about via the day to day John site and ‘Abigail’s comments. Which was such fun. And addictive. I keep ‘going into’ Abby in my comments here - like I cut a whole lot of Abby stuff after ‘We need Babs Cartland these days.’ It’s so tempting to have her on here but I think she’s best left as a ‘John’ thing and this is so different.

    Babs Cartland’s ghost though. Hmm….

    Oh I don’t think you write like babs. I couldn’t because I’ve never read her! It was the pink that was Babs.

    I love the idea of setting it in France. It’s already very atmospheric.

    Yes I think it should be different from John. That really was the last word on Dysfunctional Gay Affair. So I’m sort of hoping ‘You’ is female - yes hetero relationships are fucked up too!

    Already, as 'the man who doesn't believe in love'
    he’s the opposite of Tristy.

  14. Hiya Joe, a reply before I hit the sack...

    Yes, I think you're right about the hetero thing so that can be the first influenced storyline. I wasn't sure and had left it hanging while I pondered over it. Finally it will not matter, but I won't reveal why. Not that it is a mystery or plotline, it's not, more that it touches on the overall theme of the work and just knowing the theme could lesson the enjoyment as it will decide many thiungs which may happen.

    Oh I'm not sure Abigail is unwanted here or should be left with WFJ. I have brought some things across and there will be shorts posted here following the lives of the main characters after Tristy's death. Just the main feel of this site will be much different so as people can get over that. For me thats one of the objectives of this project: make people realize uit wasn't WFJ they loved, buyt the words it was told in. I think after a writer has knocked out a few good and distinct works, readers stop yearning for more of the old and instead yearn for the new. So if that happens after Bubblegum it'll be a sucess I was looking for. Yes, at first I was going to completely severe all links with WFJ, but I don't think that is needed. Fially it will be that I do something equal to it, or better, that will lay it finally to rest. So Abigail is more than welcome here, and I was going to point out (as you did) how that line of your last comment was really her in you! I don't know what's worse: channelling Babs or Abigail!!!


  15. Ben, Yes, I remember you telling me that, and then me praying I hadn't made the The Dame seem fashionable. But I'm sure your friend wouldn't have put the Dangerous Dandy to the use I suggested... if only because it was a present from you. X

  16. Oh I love the fact that WFJ characters will be commenting on here and, even better, featured in follow up stories. I think that shows that there's more to be done with those people. It would be a waste to just let them go. I mean we still haven't heard John's side of things. E.G: What was in that vault?

    Abigail definitely hasn't finished here. I mean she's such a big mouth proselytiser she'll want her say at some point.


    Woody Allen: 'Is sex dirty? Only if you're doing it right'.

    Is love painful?
    Only if you're doing it right...

  17. great start, leaves me wanting more.
    also, love reading your comments about your writing process. i like when the comments section is another fascinating thing to read.
    i discovered you relatively recently, but now i want to go read through the entire wfj, so i'm in on everything. i really like the whole multi dimensional angle with the comments and proposed photos, kind of like mixed media for writing.

  18. 'a waddle of worried looking Chinese tourists ...'

    With lines like this, how could I read anyone else?!

    g =]


If you're here to write something malicious I thank you in advance for wasting your precious time on me. X