Writer's Tears

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Other  |  House: Booksie Classic
Billy Irvine was really struggling to work through his first novel. Then he meets an Irishman in the pub who offers to help him.

Submitted: March 31, 2016

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Submitted: March 31, 2016

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Billy Irvine took a swig of his pint. He sighed. His head hurt. The novel just wasn’t coming on at all. He had needed to retreat to the pub. He had been climbing the walls of his study at home. After telling his wife he was just popping out to clear his head he had dashed to the pub. Hopefully once he had relaxed with a few pints the writing would flow like it had done since he was a child.

Six months ago he had given up work at the office to concentrate on writing his first novel. Making the leap from short stories and poems had needed this commitment. His wife Sally had been offering to support him financially for years. This would give Billy the chance to focus on writing his novel. She had been delighted when he had finally taken her up on the offer. But for the past few months he had managed to produce very little and nothing of any quality.

He placed his elbows on the bar and rubbed his eyes.

‘Howayeh?’ said a voice.

Billy turned to see a man standing next to him. He was in his sixties with grey thinning hair.

‘Evening mate.’ said Billy.

‘You look like you’ve got something on your mind.’

Billy shrugged.

‘Might help if you talk about it.’

The man had a thick Dublin accent. And, Billy thought, he certain had the Irish gift of the gab.

Billy explained that he was struggling to write his first novel.

‘Would you like some help?’

‘Sorry?’

‘Everyone knows that the Irish are the world’s best storytellers.’

‘I don’t think that’s the case.’

‘From James Joyce and Oscar Wilde to Seamus Heaney and Roddy Doyle, Irish writers are the greatest. The Irishman has the soul of the poet. Name an English writer that comes anywhere close.’

‘William Shakespeare.’

‘They call him The Bard. Anyone who’s been barred from an ale house must have some Irish blood.’

For the first time in weeks Billy laughed.

‘There you are now.’ the man said.

‘I’m Billy. What’s your name?’

‘Thomas Mews. Call me Tom.’

They shook hands.

‘Want me to take a look at your novel?’

‘I appreciate the offer but-’

‘How about this, we go through it together. We see what you’ve got and what we can do with it.’

‘You really don’t have to-’

‘I insist. What have you got to lose? I don’t want any credit or any of that bollix. I’m too long in the tooth for any of that. Besides, we’ll be doing it together based on what you’ve got already so it will still be your babbie. Worse case we can’t rescue the story. But on the other hand,’ he paused.

‘We may finish the novel.’ said Billy.

‘Your novel.’ Tom said. ‘Do you have any whiskey at home?’

‘Yes.’

‘Then what are we waiting for?’

Billy finished his pint. Tom emptied his Guinness glass.

Billy showed Tom into his home. He led him through to his study. Booked lined the walls. These volumes ranged from Charles Dickens and Sherlock Holmes to modern day crime fiction and creative writing guides.

Billy grabbed a bottle of whiskey from the kitchen. He explained to his wife that he had enlisted an Irishman’s help with his novel. She looked puzzled but smiled. Sally had spent all the years she’d known him listening to him chatter on about ideas for stories, plots and characters. He would talk for at length about his latest story. Sally had long ago given up trying to understand Billy and his writing. It was his passion but she understood it about as much as if his passion had been astro-physics. She supported him as best she could, but left him to it where the creativity was concerned.

Billy poured him and Tom large measures of whiskey. They made themselves comfortable and Billy described where he was upto with his writing, and what ideas he had about the direction the story could take. Tom slipped on reading glasses and pored through Billy’s papers. It felt strange to have someone in his study reading his notes. Nobody was allowed in his study and certainly not permitted to read his unfinished work.

The Irishman’s expression was one of focus and interest. He nodded as he turned a page. Billy paced the small room as Tom read on. Finally he took his glasses off and sat back in the chair. Billy flopped in the chair across the desk. He felt like a patient waiting for results from a doctor. Tom pointed to the papers scattered across the desk.

‘It needs a lot of work. But you definitely have something here. There is a lot of potential. The style and tone is spellbinding. Are you sure you don’t have any Irish in you?’

‘No. I’m Anglo Saxon. But you really think we can fix it?’

‘I’m sure of it. I’m certain there’s a novel here. And I’ve got a few ideas of my own.’

With Tom’s help Billy completed the novel twelve months later. The book was published and dedicated to his wife but ‘with special thanks to Tom Mews’. The novel was moderately successful. Billy was delighted that people were reading his work. He had secured a publishing deal for his next five books. At last he was being paid for doing what he loved.

Billy and Tom worked well together. They made a good partnership. As long as Billy kept the Irish whiskey flowing of an evening Tom was happy. A good story to work on, he would say, and a drop of the pure, what else does a feller need? The old man was happy enough just wrangling through the writing. They would bounce ideas off each other, iron out plot tangles and thrash it out between them until they had a finished novel.

With Tom’s advice and pointers the next two books were released to increasing success. Three books in three years. Billy gave ‘special thanks to Tom Mews’ in each one. Billy would tell Tom that they were the greatest writing partnership since Lennon and McCartney.

And now book four needed planning. Tom had an idea. He handed Billy the notes. Billy studied the papers. Could this be the idea for the next book? He looked up. Tom stared back, reading glasses in hand.

‘Interesting.’ Billy said.

‘I think it’s the one.’

‘If we changed a few things round it just might be something special.’

That evening Billy told his wife how excited he was about the next book.

‘It really could be a belter, love. It might be even better than the last one.’

‘Wow, hun, that’s fantastic.’

‘I know. The story really is coming along. With Tom’s help I think I’ll get there.’

‘Billy, you should stop this thing with Tom.’

‘He may not get the recognition but Tom’s help has been invaluable.’

‘Can you drop the pretence now? Please? I didn’t say anything when it helped get you through the struggle with the first book but would you just stop it now? It’s getting weird.’

‘What are you talking about?’

‘There is no Tom. Only you. It’s all you.’

‘But I do write with Tom.’

‘Then how come I’ve never seen him?’

‘What? He’s been coming round here for years.’

‘No, he hasn’t.’

‘Sally, he’s in the study right now.’

‘You’re working yourself too hard.’

Billy shook his head. He rushed through the house. He stormed into the study. Tom was sitting at the desk in his usual chair. He was going through a stack of papers. Sally appeared behind Billy.

‘See?’ she said. ‘Nobody there.’

‘Tom Mews is sitting right there. Tom, what is going on? What is she on about?’

‘You know,’ said Tom. ‘You’ve been spelling my last name wrong all this time.’

‘What is your last name?’

‘Muse.’


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