The Rocky Analogy

I’ve just discovered captions! The relevance of Sylvester Stallone triumphant on top of a Siberian mountain will become clear. Read on…

Last time, wannabe screenwriter Rob had hung up his keyboard and got a proper job but, years later, inspiration hit him between the eyes. What on earth happened next?!

So what kind of writer do I find myself in the Spring of 2008? Looking for a nifty comparison to kick off this blog, it seems too obvious to look at writers in the movies. Nicholas Cage in Adaptation? Too tortured. Jack Nicholson in The Shining? Far too bonkers. Joseph Cotten in The Third Man? Not unless I can identify with a hack author of pulp fiction caught up in a black market conspiracy in post-war Vienna.

Then it strikes me, looking back at that time, I was very much channelling the great Sylvester Stallone as Rocky Balboa in Rocky 4 (this is good, stay with me). After years away from writing (boxing, in Rocky’s case) and helping other writers (Rock was training Apollo Creed for an unlikely comeback), I come out of retirement to avenge the death of my writing career (Apollo’s tragic demise in the ring) against newer, younger, better writers (Dolph Lundgren’s pharmaceutically enhanced Ivan Drago). Going back to basics to battle my own demons, I rise victorious (write something) in the face of seemingly insurmountable odds; thus saving the world from near certain nuclear holocaust by ending the Cold War through friendship and reconciliation (not that last bit).


It was certainly a bizarre feeling to be hit by the bug so dramatically after years of working with writers, rather than writing myself. And it really was a ropey idea that had my creative juices flowing again: a boy who turns into a fox and gets in adventures?! I’d have to come up with a bit more than that.

What’s more, I had inadvertently raised expectation elsewhere. Strutting around the office the following day, excited about getting back in the writing game, I boasted to my colleague and fellow agent Elinor that I would soon be delivering a novel for her to sell.

“Ooh,” she said (or something like that). “What’s It called?”

“Er…it’s going to be called,” I paused, scrabbling for something half way decent. “Black Moon. That’s it…Black Moon.”

“Great,” she replied. I guess. I don’t really remember the conversation that well and she was probably trying to do some actual work.

And there in a moment, I had set myself the task of writing a novel called Black Moon that might be about an adventurous fox boy.

I did a lot of thinking and scribbling over the next few days and weeks and months. My memory is hazy on exactly how my idea evolved into the story of Cat Dixon, star of Black Moon (now JACK Dixon but that’s for another day). Strong influences crowded my mind. American Werewolf In London for one, an astounding picture that had a profound effect on me as a teenager. I didn’t end up writing a werewolf book, by the way. It might have ‘moon’ in its title and want you to think it’s a werewolf book but it has a few other tricks up its booksleeves.

It didn’t take long for the pieces to fall into place. I was shaping a story that was very far from what I thought I had. Isn’t that the best thing about writing? You’re always surprising yourself.

Devoting an hour or two a night, more than I could spare considering work, life, sleep; Black Moon started to come together. Next week, I’ll tell you what happened when I finished.

Keeping it pithy this time.

Kraitt out!