5 Months Later

Christmas baubleThis post is probably entirely unnecessary, but it wouldn’t be the first time one of my posts could be described that way.

Five months ago I published on this blog the final instalment of Fare Game, the story that triggered the very existence of this blog. It was an experiment at a number of levels, and a good one, too.

This morning I marked as ‘Private’ the last 20 or so posts, roughly comprising the second half of the story. They no longer appear here. I did it because I’m a writer first and a blogger second and as I move further through the process of re-establishing myself – mcphoenix like – as a writer, it seemed like the right thing to do and the right time.

In the last 5 months I have:

  • Sent Fare Game to my agent and then, via her, out to publishing houses (no success)
  • Gone back to a previous manuscript – Christmas – and with the help of a work-shopping process expertly conducted by Antoni Jach, done a massive rewrite of the story
  • Sent Christmas to my agent and to the first prospective publisher
  • Begun the process of going back to Fare Game to embark on a rewrite

Those bullet points sound pretty damn uninspiring but that’s not the case. The work-shopping, both in its orchestration by Antoni Jach and its participation by the other writers, has been revelatory for me.

I hesitated before using that word: revelatory. I sat in front of the keyboard, fingers hovering, asking myself whether that was overstating the impact of the process. I decided it was the right word.

In fact, I’m now glad that Christmas (previously titled Four Kinds of Christmas / Christmas with Ruby / The Unpublished Manuscript* Gathering Dust in the Bottom Draw) didn’t get published 3-4 years ago because I got to go through the rewriting process with the assistance of Antoni and the work-shopping group, and I discovered and rediscovered a number of ways to improve my manuscript and, more generally, to improve my writing.

*I initially had Piece of Shit instead of Manuscript in that optional title, but I thought better of it.

The discovery led me to change the structure considerably, change the ending (now redemptive rather than ambiguous) and make more of the relationship between two of the main characters so that the changed ending could be delivered.

The rediscovery related to the ‘spareness’ of my writing, which had been lost and replaced by a paunch. I didn’t even notice the paunch, but others pointed it out. In many ways, this was amongst the most exciting of the benefits of the work-shopping. I knew my writing wasn’t quite delivering what I intended it should, but I didn’t realise it’d had grown a paunch or that the paunch was largely responsible for the disconnect between intention and delivery.

That I can now see it so clearly leaves me wondering how I could ever have missed it, but also pretty damn excited about the prospects it brings. A spare style was a hallmark of my first book (Burning Sunday, published way back in 1999) and now that I have rediscovered the voice, the eye, the discipline required to deliver it, I want to apply it not only to Christmas, but also to Fare Game.

I have other changes in mind for Fare Game, as well:

  • Change to first person intimate narrator. It will be Driver, although I may have Minnie also give first person accounts. This means the current narrator, the journalist, will become a side-character
  • Expand on the plot-line between Driver and Minnie and introduce Minnie’s importance earlier. The story opens with Driver picking up Punter and, from the first scene, it reads like a gritty piece of crime fiction – at least, that’s the feedback from publishers. But while the plot line following Punter’s revenge against Frank Postman is important, it isn’t the main story
  • Cut out the paunch. This isn’t just about removing unnecessary words. Their removal changes the aesthetic of the story and its characters, particularly in combination with the switch to first person point-of-view. So I expect the plot will also change in ways I don’t yet know. My characters will tell me how to change the story, as they re-emerge.

And then there are well-developed ideas to for two more new stories. Plenty of work to do. Looking forward to it.

Top 5 Songs About Waitresses

Seth Sentry, The Waiter Minute EP

Seth Sentry, The Waiter Minute EP

Driver has a thing about waitresses. When I proposed that he’d do a top 5 waitresses list I did not anticipate the lobbying and flagrant offers of sexual favours from the waitresses of Melbourne that the mere mention of such a list would stimulate. Yes, stimulate.

To avoid a nasty scene I have no choice but to change the top 5 from a list of actual waitresses to one listing waitresses dedicated to song. Whether the songwriters experienced the same close treatment from their subjects I don’t know. What I do know is that if you believe a word of this introduction you are easily led astray. Just the kind of reader I fancy. Continue reading

Rosie goes to town / 3 Fare Game posts this week

I’m in uncharted territory here. If it was a desert it’d be getting hotter and drier, if it was the ocean it’d be getting deeper and more shark-infested. But that’s all a bit melodramatic, isn’t it? More like I’ve wandered down a lane way and while I’m a little bit lost, I know home is around here some place. HTFU.

This is all by way of saying that later this week I’ll be 3/4 of the way through posting Fare Game and I can smell the finish line. I can smell home some place nearby. And, quite frankly, I’m getting excited! Continue reading

Street Art

There was a story in one of the local newspapers a couple of weeks back about a visiting dancer and her impressions of Melbourne. One of the things she highlighted was the street art and, to illustrate her point, she had her picture taken against the backdrop of a piece of art by Taylor White in a Fitzroy street.taylor-white-46

That’s just a brilliant piece of work, I reckon. (And that’s not the dancer sitting in front of the doorway, it’s the artist, I think.) Continue reading

The screen door slams

Bruce Springsteen, Drammenshallen, Norway, 1981. Wikimedia Commons

Bruce Springsteen, Drammenshallen, Norway, 1981. Wikimedia Commons

The screen door slams
Mary’s dress sways
Like a vision she dances across the porch
As the radio plays
Roy Orbison singing for the lonely
Hey that’s me and I want you only
Don’t turn me home again
I just can’t face myself alone again

In two days I’m going to see Bruce play. I had something else I was going to write about today but then it hit me that I simply had to write about Springsteen. Because as much as any writer, artist, or performer he was the first spark in my interest in writing. His lyrics, the way he sings them and his genuineness as a performer and a person (from what I know) have been a signpost for me not only in that I write at all, but in what and who I choose to write about and the voice I aim to bring to my writing. Continue reading

Top 5 Passengers in Driver’s Taxi

Megan Gale @ Australia's Next Top Model. Wikimedia Commons

Megan Gale @ Australia’s Next Top Model. Wikimedia Commons

A month ago I wrote a post about Driver’s Top 5 Top 5s – his five favourite Top 5 lists. Driver’s favourite 5 passengers was not one of the top 5 lists I nominated. That’s because:

  1. It should have been and I forgot
  2. I’m stupid
  3. It is in the nature of Top 5 lists that the selections will change
  4. All of the above

The answer doesn’t really matter because it’s the Top 5 I’m starting with. And I think it’s a good one. It will tell you something more about Driver – of all the people he’s had in his taxi, which 5 left the most lasting and meaningful impression? They might not be the most important, they might not be the most famous, but they are the ones that Driver wants to put in the Top 5, so their selection says more about him as they do about the renown of the passengers themselves. Continue reading

Half way there?

half-way don't look back

This is for The Ride. Fare Game, episode 13, will be ready on Friday.

If this were a real ride – on a bike, with a group of mates – at about the half-way point I’d be thinking of where and when we were going to stop for a coffee and a muffin. The stop itself might not happen for a little while, but I’d be thinking about it. Mostly I’d be managing my expectations of the double espresso I’d order. Some places we stop, the coffee isn’t up to scratch, but everything else – the location, the people you’re with, the weather, the baristas and wait staff – can all balance the ledger and deliver a satisfying experience.

Yes, I am a bit too much like Driver when it comes to coffee and cycling. Continue reading

Why I’m Here – Overcoming Professional-Grade Procrastination

Pipedream #9

Mick’s pipedream #9 … but you gotta have ’em, right?

Fourteen years is more than enough time to turn procrastination into a profession. And from the outside maybe that’s what it looks like I’ve been doing, at least when it comes to writing fiction. My first novel, Burning Sunday, came out in 99. Just over a month ago I embarked on the challenging and some would say foolhardy, or even block-headed, exercise of serially blogging Fare Game – which will be my new novel, if things go well. And the 14 years in between? Well…

Back at the turn of the millennium I was too slow-witted and/or naïve to realise that I had any kind of literary career to throw away. Reviewers considered BS to be somewhat better than its more commonly used short-hand meaning suggested, and the book managed to sneak onto the short-list for The Age book of the year. Continue reading

Insignificance can be achieved quite simply and through myriad paths. (Or, the Google God moves in mysterious ways.)

News of the Google God @ Creative Commons

News of the Google God @ Creative Commons

This is for The Ride, an unreliable chronicle of my experiences in blogging. The next instalment of Fare Game will be ready tomorrow.

In the beginning, Google thought I was a typo.

I’m at the end of the first month of the block-headed project of blogging my hope-to-be novel Fare Game. There are so many things I’ve learnt, so many unexpected valuable experiences and lessons, so much I am yet to learn or even realise I am yet to learn, that to chronicle them would be tedious.

But here’s one observation I want to share … when I type ‘mickmccoy.com’ into Google’s search field it asks me, ‘Did you mean nickmccoy.com?’ If I entered ‘mick mccoy’ Google wouldn’t even be polite enough to ask the question, it would automatically tell me it was Showing results for Nick McCoy and then in micro font underneath tell me to ‘Click here for Mick McCoy’ Continue reading

Top 5 Top 5s

This one’s for The Ride. More Fare Game online tomorrow …
Isabella Rossellini

In an upcoming episode Driver is going to tell everyone about his top 5 taxi movies. I’ll let you in on a little secret … Taxi Driver is one of them! How could it not be? But no more about that until the post goes live. In my imaginings of Driver I have come up with other Top 5 lists that Driver might be inclined to compile. Driver quite likes a good list and they seem like a good way to give readers some insight into his personality.

And in case you’re wondering, I’M NOT DRIVER, OK? I have all his good qualities and none of his bad ones. I’ve never driven a taxi, although that’s not a bad quality, by any means. In fact, I have grown fond of my time in taxis talking to the various drivers I meet. I’ve never studied or practised law, I’m not Italian and have no Italian heritage, although I do have a soft spot for Alfa Romeos, Italian bicycles, double espresso and Isabella Rossellini, not in that order. I have only occasionally ridden Italian bicycles although I dream about and would very much like to own one and ride it a lot, at some point not too distant from now. I do own an Alfa so I ride in it a lot. I have never ridden Isabella Rossellini and am not prepared to reveal the extent to which I dream about it (see love-struck gibbon reference in next paragraph).

AND MY WIFE ISN’T MINNIE, EITHER while we’re on the topic. She is a physio, she does specialise in human plumbing, she did drive a burnt-orange Mazda shit-box … but we’re as faithful as love-struck gibbons (they’re really faithful, look it up!) although with much sexier hair.

Anyway, most of Driver’s other Top 5s won’t make it into the book. In fact, I don’t think any others will, but I thought I might post some of them here so you could get a stronger sense of the whole Driver-ness of the lad. So following is the Top 5 list of Driver’s Top 5s (other than taxi driver movies) that help describe Driver’s personality and bear not even the slightest morsel of a resemblance to Mick McCoy’s personality:

  1. Top 5 Italian cycling influences – could be riders, frames, components, clothing, footwear, races … anything that arouses Driver’s emotions. Yes, I know, not one for everyone, but the cyclists amongst the readership will argue endlessly, be astonished that I have a different list to theirs and call me (Driver) at least five kinds of moron. I hope;
  2. Top 5 Melbourne places to drink coffee – where the emphasis is not just on the quality of the coffee, but the total experience of consuming the coffee, including the hotness and/or attitude of the baristas and waitresses, the decor, the hotness and/or attitude of the baristas and waitresses, the setting, the hotness and/or attitude of the baristas and waitresses, the people who usually accompany Driver to that place to drink coffee or, come to think of it, the hotness and/or attitude of the baristas and waitresses;
  3. Top 5 Melbourne baristas and/or waitresses – Driver insists that this be its own category. He’s like that. He wants you to know that he’s not an old letch but rather someone who simply appreciates the importance of baristas and waitresses in the coffee experience. The baristas might even be male, but not the wait staff, they’re waitresses. Actually … doesn’t care if you think he’s an old letch. (Additional note: I think the plural is baristi when referring to men and bariste when referring to women, but I’m not sure, so I’m sticking with baristas. If you don’t agree, tell Driver, but just be prepared for the fact that he probably won’t care);
  4. Top 5 Italian restaurants – not just about coffee this time, but also food and setting and waitresses and patrons … the whole experience
  5. Top 5 Italian cultural influences (excluding things relating to cycling) – because Driver’s an Aussie. Now, there’s a chance that these might reflect my preferences rather than Driver’s, but even if that were true I wouldn’t admit to it. I’m too shy

A couple of other important things … the list of Top 5’s aren’t in order. Driver doesn’t necessarily rate cycling above coffee or general Italian cultural influences. And the five items in each Top 5 won’t be in order. If you want to think they are and argue with me about it, go right ahead. I would enjoy it, but Driver wouldn’t care.

So, there it is, Driver’s Top 5 Top 5’s. Coming soon!

Too busy killing darlings to ride

This one’s for The Ride. More Fare Game online tomorrow …

So here’s the thing… it’s kinda late, it has been a long day, I’m due to have posted something for The Ride and I’ve just been too plain busy doing the metaphorical riding – working on the transition of my days from full-time corporate functionary to thinking, feeling, creating writer – to get this blog piece done.

Well, yeah, I get the irony in that. And there’s even more ‘cos in between wrestling with the delicate balance of family and self and dollar-earning functionary and creative writer and glue-sniffing popcorn vendor – the recording of which is the exact point of The Ride posts – it’s a ride-like slice of writing that has tipped me over the precipice and left me here with so much to say that I can’t get any of it down.

Some of you will be aware of Kill Your Darlings, who describe themselves this way on Twitter: Kill Your Darlings is an independent, quarterly publication. We publish fresh, clever writing that combines intellect with intrigue.

On Friday, those very darlings agreed for me to contribute a piece to their blog about my bumpy ride. This very ride right here. As a result I have spent a good part of today doing my best to be clever, by combining intellect with intrigue, and shoe-horning the whole damn lot into a piece they will be sufficiently satisfied meets those lofty criteria and is consequently published. Bloody enjoyable it was, too.

By spending time killing darlings I am actually on The Ride. Two darling birds killed with one stone. Or one story. The keyboard is mightier than the stone, after all. You’ve probably heard that. Writing 1,000 words for them is very much a part of the ambition of this blog: do my topmost-notch job of writing Fare Game and use this blog and other relevant online avenues to raise awareness of that topmost-notch job.

Bums on seats, folks, that’s what I’m after. If some of those in the KYD audience want to mosey over and check-out some mcphoenixy Fare Game freshness, all the better. And while I’m strong on the re-animation theme here, preferably clad in a lovely rich purple, rather than the slaughter of  those I’m fond of, I’m sure we’ll learn to respect those differences.

But that’s it for now. I’m all clevered out. Clearly. Intrigue is off the agenda and I just spilt my intellect on the floor with the green tea bag. The cat – Harry – about whom it will be alleged soon in Fare Game is contentedly homosexual – has sniffed at my intellect as it seeps from the green tea bag and dribbles across my kitchen floor, turned up his nose at it all and sauntered off with his tail held high yet whiskers untwitched.

Antisocial Media


MEERKAT (Photo credit: paddynapper)


This post is for The Ride: a record of my thoughts, fears, ambitions and experiences of blogging an unpublished novel.


For posts of the actual story – Fare Game – see the next post down, or click on the ‘Recent Posts’, ‘Archives’, or ‘Categories’ links to the right of the page and down a bit.


And please, if you’re not already, show your support for this blog by including your email address in the text box to the right and clicking ‘Follow’


Antisocial Media. That’s what I was calling Facebook for a few days this week. There was teeth-grinding, jaw clenching and eyebrow harvesting. Particularly eyebrow harvesting.  It’s what I do when I’m confronted with a problem I can’t fix. Or at least, it’s what I’m told I do, by my wife and two daughters. And If I look in the bathroom mirror, it is pretty clear my right eyebrow just stops about two-thirds the way along its proper course. Where the final third of eyebrow should be, there’s a kind of facial hair desert.


My girls didn’t lie to me about that. My girls wouldn’t lie to me, particularly if it relates to a further deterioration of my physical appearance that makes being seen in public with me even more painful for them. Their objective when out in public with me is that I seem invisible to people of their age. But a gross facial deformity such as the lack of the outside third of a right eyebrow renders you visible in the most embarrassing way. It’s something I’ve just got to deal with. Continue reading

Reflections on the first instalment

This is the third post for The Ride: a record of my thoughts, fears, ambitions and experiences of blogging an unpublished novel. For the first post of the actual story, see the next post down

There, it’s done. Am I calm? No. Excited? Yes. But you can be ‘excited’ if an angry rhino is bearing down on you and there’s nowhere to hide. All I’m doing here is blogging a book, so what’s with the anxiety?

While I’m not risking death or dismemberment by taking this relatively unusual step of committing a new novel to a blog format and relentless schedule, I am exposing myself to the potential for a very public kind of failure.  I hope the blog is very public. I also hope it’s not a failure.

Continue reading

A short pause before releasing the clutch

I’m ready to go, truly I am. The first post is written and could so easily have gone live today, only for my resolve to be weakened and ultimately defeated by the realisation that trying to wrestle the attention of my invited audience while they were preparing to get children to school the following day may be a crap idea.

So I didn’t even send the invitations. HTFU, you might say.

Continue reading

In the beginning …

On this page in late January 2013 will appear a post containing the first instalment of Fare Game, a story about a cabbie called Driver Ancelotti; part Don Juan, part Don Quixote. Those two Spanish Dons epitomise opposites in many ways; violent womaniser versus chivalrous gentleman, wealthy gambler versus virtuous knight, even if in somewhat tarnished armor.

Driver is an Italian manifestation of much that they stand for, blending their differences and similarities into one not so ordinary man. Resident of Carlton, movie buff, coffee snob, cyclist and one-time lawyer, Driver’s cab sometimes offers refuge, sometimes a magic carpet ride.

I don’t yet know how the story ends, although I have a few ideas. But I can at least tell you how it starts …

Continue reading