I feel almost as if I’ve been in hibernation over the past few months. I’ve dipped in and out of Facebook and Twitter and hosted writers on my Tea and Talk at Sally Lunn’s on WordPress each Sunday. But for the most part the new book has had my undivided attention. In fact at times it seemed to have taken over my life completely. It became the first thing I thought about in the morning when I woke up and the last thing before I went to sleep – yes I really seemed to be suffering from obsessive writer’s syndrome! The whole thing has certainly given me a few surprises and scares along the way but then I should be used to it by now – that’s how writing is. You set out on a journey with all good intentions of following the plot you’ve decided on only to find yourself constantly pushed off course by some unseen force which appears to know better than you do how the book should be written.
Now I’ve almost reached the end of my first draft, hitting 152,000 words as I tell the of the love triangle between my three main characters. There are moments with this book when I have felt emotionally drained. The first 70,000 words wrote like a dream, but after that things were very up and down. There were becalmed moments when the writing simply did not go well at all or completely dried up. Then there were moments where self-belief turned tail and ran away and I wondered whether I should save my sanity and abandon the whole project completely. You see even though I know all about the myriad of moods which accompany me when I’m writing, I still manage to succumb. Luckily I never make rash decisions; I always sleep on things because the next day the world is a whole new place. And that’s how it was. So I became skilled at going with the flow, riding out the storms and trekking my way across the inspirational deserts. I think the fact that the cover had already been designed was another reason which kept me going. I’m very glad I did because even though I’m only at first draft stage I know this book has already exceeded my expectations.
Luckily I have had pockets of time away over the first four months of this year. Time which has given me the opportunity to get away from the PC; to shut the door on the physical side of writing and relax. I do, however, use the quieter moments to run ideas through my head. I’ve no distractions when I’m not home and have found this is a really good time to sort out things that aren’t working. When we left for four days in Chester last week I had written the final scene of the story but wasn’t entirely happy with the way it had worked out. Those four days away enabled me to return with the ending of the book completely worked out in my head. Time well spent.
I have to say my books usually do not get written in chronological order. It’s the way I do it – you might call it ‘ordered chaos’. However this time the book has been more or less written in a straight line. The only part I have to complete now is to finish the one missing scene which takes place in Verona. I visited Verona a few years back so still had a vague memory of places like Juliette’s balcony and the Arena. Google maps to the rescue! Absolutely brilliant – you can wander the streets electronically and get a genuine feel for your surroundings!
Tonight will definitely see the words THE END typed. It’s a strange time. No more deliberating on how to write the next scene and from whose aspect. No more working out whether the characters are reacting to each other in the right way. Now it’s all about going back and retracing my steps to make sure not only that the writing is tight but also that the pace is right and the timeline is in the correct sequence. Then there is the check to make sure the characters don’t start a scene wearing one thing and end up dressed in something completely different! A book I read recently had the main female character wearing a blouse at the start of a particular scene and a jumper at the end of it! Another had a woman with short hair who a few pages on was plaiting it! This is more observation that criticism as it is such an easy trap to fall into. Someone I used to work for long ago once told me with regard to reading that ‘we see what we want to see.’ As far as writing a novel is concerned that is also true and it’s so easy not to pick up on things when you tend to be very close to your work. That is why I’m so glad that when I’ve checked and checked and tweaked and bullied my MS to the best of my ability I can then e-mail my editor and say ‘over to you.’
My fifth novel The Other Side of Morning will be published later this year