Friday, November 27, 2020

No Accounting For Taste

Mending your ways — If you had to stop your life of crime (writing) what other types of books would you like to write?

By Abir 

Morning. Welcome to Friday – the end of the working week is in sight. But what if next week my work were to change – what if the powers that be suddenly outlaw the writing of crime fiction because, I don’t know, some crime fiction writer somewhere has stumbled upon the truth, that Trump is right and that the US election was stolen by a combination of dead Venezuelans and big farmers. 

So that puts me out of a job. On the bright side, I’ve been paid advances for several things I haven’t handed in yet, so technically I’m ahead, and I don’t care what the publishers might say, I’m keeping the money. 

 It still leaves me with the problem of what I do after I’ve spent that cash (so basically any time after next Tuesday) - what kind of writing should I pursue? Because let’s face it, I’m too old, too incompetent and too lazy to get a proper job. 

My books are historical crime fiction, so I guess I could try straight historical fiction – get rid of the crimey bit – but I’m not sure what I’d write about. As Proust once said, ‘What is the past without dead bodies?’ 

Just take my word for it. He definitely said it. 

I could, I suppose, do a Jane Austen – write about intelligent women and boorish men in the regency period, but the problem is, having read a truck load of Austen at school, if I ever have cause to stumble on the regency period again in my life, I will be forced to punch it in the face. 

I could do straight non-fiction history, and this is appealing, at least on the surface. And then I remember that this would involve serious research and rob me of my favourite historical tool – just making stuff up. So writing proper historical stuff would probably end in me getting sued by, I don’t know, the relatives and descendants of Marcel Proust. 

Let’s get back to fiction. I reckon I could try my hand at a bit of science fiction. I’d probably start with Star Trek fan fiction – maybe something set in the period when Captain Picard still had hair – but then, the thing about Trekkies is they’re more fanatical about the Star Trek timeline (official Star Trek cannon) than historians are about real history. You make one mistake, like having Mr Spock’s ear’s pointing the downwards and you’ll have a million nerds threatening you in grammatically correct Klingon from their mothers’ basements. 

So where does that leave us? Literary fiction? I’d love this. I could easily write you six thousand pages about my hero Kabir, an extremely talented yet misunderstood writer, and the angst he faces dealing with a modern world which is stacked against him – why is the coffee from the Nespresso machine never ever hot enough? Why does the BBC keep rejecting his insightful ideas for gritty TV dramas set in Guildford (aren’t they supposed to be all over the ethnic market these days? Isn’t he ethnic enough for the BBC?), and why does no one, not even his wife - especially not his wife - appreciate his genius? Actually – I’m pretty up for writing that. I’d send a synopsis to my agent Sam, but as you know, he’s told me never to contact him again. 

Then there is romantic fiction. This is appealing. Because if there’s one angle the romantic fiction market hasn’t covered and is definitely crying out for, it’s probably romance written by middle-aged, middle class accountants. Think about it. According to figures I just made up, one in every eighteen people on the planet is an accountant. And yet, when was the last time you saw an accountant as the hero in a sci fi novel, or a crime novel, or a romance novel? I’ll tell you when – never. And yet, aren’t we accountants people too? If you cut us, do we not bleed? If you tickle us, do we not laugh? And if you wrong us, shall we not revenge by messing up your taxes? So why are accountants so poorly reflected in our literature? We all need to see ourselves represented in stories, and so, I say to you, things must change! No longer should accountants be merely side characters, victims, pathetic bean counters to the evil villains. No! Accountants must take their rightful place in the pantheon of our literary culture. So I suggest this. If crime fiction is now illegal, I shall take up the cause of writing accountancy based fiction, regardless of genre. Here are some ideas: 

Title: Love Between the Spreadsheets (Romantic Bodice Ripper) 
The tale of two star crossed twenty-somethings, who despite their love for one another can never be together because she’s a chartered accountant and he’s a cost accountant, and society says such a gulf can never be bridged. 

Day of the Audit (Science Fiction with Big Screen Blockbuster potential) 
It’s the year 2120. A fateful day for humanity. Aliens from the star system IAS-23 arrive on earth. They are an advanced society where accounting records are the most highly prized of all documents. They are shocked by the backwardness of earth, where it seems that lawyers, despite being villainous and evil, claim all of the glory, while robbing those of a financial bent of their rightful place in society. 

Blessed be the Book-Keepers (Dystopian Epic) 
I got nothing so far – just the title, but I’m picturing something like the Handmaid’s Tale but with more accountants. Trust me. This is going to make me a millionaire. 

I’m also open to other ideas. If you have any, please leave them in the comments and I might even steal one or two of them. 

Have a great weekend, stay safe, and be kinder to your accountant friends. 



Susan C Shea said...

Rise up, ye accountants, and follow the flag to fame and glory! Abir, you can lead with a flaming abacus and some kind of helmet that signifies accounting. The Age of Accountants is upon us. Be very afraid....


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