The Beach Diaries 2016 — #1 in an Occasional Series

tin woodman

The sun is out, and I’m beach body ready!*

*ready for my body to be found washed up on the beach

Within the first hot weekend, ant-like swarms of humanity once again fill the place that was so pleasingly empty and so pleasingly mine over the winter months. Literal fair-weather friends, they see every cliché immediately spring into life, like someone flicked the beach and all its automaton cast back on, after a winter’s slumber; creaking and dusty in their unlit warehouse.

A boy walking on the bench is told “One more warning, and we’re going home.” An angry sound comes from the pink face of a fat, shirtless man with a bald head, as a wind-blown child’s bubble pops against his forehead. I move from my first spot on the grass when I notice I’m sat right by a dog turd. Welcome home.

Will these even work now? The Beach Diaries always came from my place as a flesh-covered Tin Man; the eternal outsider; but since the last entry, there was an… incident. Unexpected feelings magicked abstract concepts into tangible realities, and turned the wooden creation that last clacked along the prom into a real boy. However fleeting a sojourn into Other Worlds, these are things that can’t be unseen. Everything looks different now; feels different. I want to go back, but I can’t. I’m trapped here now, with the rest of you.

Okay, that’s enough penis-talk,” admonishes a mum to a boy. Or maybe she was talking to me. If so, fair point.

If you thought the previous year’s diaries were too laden down in the existential crisis I’d felt in the wake of my exhausting last book, then I’ve got some bad news. Along with the ‘issues’ relating to two paragraphs up, I’m a few days gone from turning 37; a sour number, particularly to those who thought — 10 naïve, hopeful years ago — that they would forge a career in the arts. Each birthday adds another round of admired artists and celebrities to the self-destructive, Wikipedia-checking game of “by the time X was my age, they’d already X and Y.” Chris Morris was 29 when he did On the Hour. 35 when he made Brasseye. Werner Herzog shot Aguirre at the age of 30. It’s also now gotten to where I’ve slowly outgrown all the people I held up as examples of making it late. I’m good, I thought, I’ve got eight more years. Then three. Then, oops, now I’ve passed them too.

Is there someone out there who finds similar prodding in my having birthed out 7 books out by 35? If there is, it’s not me. January marked 10 years since the release of my first paperback, and at the time, I mentally gave myself a decade to make it work. Having since chased my dreams straight into the gutter, with a succession of titles that always felt like ‘the one’, but never were, when that clock ran out a few months ago, I made the choice to stop. I promptly abandoned the (series of) novel(s) set in a 1980’s American wrestling company, that I’d spent months and tens-of-thousands of words on, and which honestly felt like great work, but also like a fucking slog. Book by book, I’ve been losing my life in year-long chunks, and no matter how satisfying or exciting the actual writing part, I knew I’ve had the unavoidable promoting process ahead of me, if I wanted anyone to see it. That’s the part I loathe; the part I am terrible at; the part which turned writing into horrible, soul-destroying toil; the part which made me hate the one thing I love, and the one thing I can do.

I mentioned above I’d chased my dreams into the gutter, but that’s not really true. The dream was never really to write books. I just got sidelined. I always wanted to write and make movies, intending to use the books as a financial springboard to get my spec scripts out there, or shoot small things myself and work my way up. Instead, I ended up with neither the money, nor even the time to pursue that anyway. So now I’m 37, without so much as a self-shot short to my name. Random Youtubers X through 1,000,00X were probably 6 when they first stuck a ten-minute short online. It’s time to move on, to be relatively normal, to, I dunno, get a regular job and work on scripts in the toilets or as I’m falling asleep over my keyboard at night like the rest of the dreamers. But if I don’t make something, every atom in my body is going to explode.

Was it a gradual transformation that saw these things become about 10% beach/90% diary? Now I’m free of Kindle-based obligations, I’ll endeavour to seek out more of other people’s madnesses, than focussing on the tedious, self-obsessed shit that’s rattling around inside my skull.

Overheard conversation snippets:

…Neil Morrissey playing Indiana Jones…”

A line of chips lay in a row along the edge of the prom, leading into an open plastic bucket which lays on its side. I watch for a while, but nobody falls for such an obvious trap. What are they hoping to capture? A tiny little tourist? A sand-gnome? A seagull? If it’s the latter, I’d expect to soon see somebody staggering along the pebbles, bleeding from empty eye-sockets, and screaming “What Hell hath I wrought?”, because seagulls be crazy. That said, a baby seagull got trapped in my chimney last summer, and after rescuing him, he seemed friendly enough that I still have fantasies of emerging from the ocean with three now-grown gull-children at my back, like Daenerys Targaryen meets Kes, and taking back my beach from all the fair-weather invaders.


The Beach Diaries have been running since 2011, spawning the two Kindle books you see above. Both are available on Amazon, for the price of a pint, and I highly recommend you buy them, because I like money.

The Beach Diaries 2011: £1.99 on$2.99 on

The Beach Diaries 2012: £2.99 on$3.99 on

If you don’t have a Kindle, here’s Amazon’s FREE Kindle app for phones, tablets, mac and PC

These days, I only put them out occasionally, as I did two years ago. The Occasional Beach Diaries 2013: #1, #2, #3, #4, #5

In 2014: #1, #2, #3

And in 2015: #1, #2, #3, #4, #5, #6

~ by Stuart on May 9, 2016.

2 Responses to “The Beach Diaries 2016 — #1 in an Occasional Series”

  1. […] And this year: #1 […]

  2. […] this year: #1, […]

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