Sometimes, writing sucks! You can sit for hours on end, days at a time, weeks into months, staring at the screen or into your hands, roaring with frustration as nothing seems to work. You can’t think what to write, or if you have the luxury of having ideas, they don’t make sense, or if they do, you stumble across someone else who has had the same idea and is doing it in ingenious ways you couldn’t even dream of (I once got three months into writing a rom-com, only for my script editor at the time to point me in the direction of the hotly anticipated, almost identical new film called “Ruby Sparks”…). It’s hard to push through those days at times, and you’re often left questioning whether you might just be better off admitting that people have very lovely lives as IT technicians without this sort of stress.
But then something clicks. You reach a glorious moment that makes you remember why you write in the first place. The point where the story starts to write itself and grows from within. Your characters tell you where to go next, your story world tells you what’s possible, and themes unveil themselves from beneath the sequined tablecloths (can’t work out if a sequined tablecloth is a brilliant/awful idea – I’ll claim it anyway, just in case!). You finally have something to get excited about, and that gives you the fresh momentum to push on through the future niggles to come and get that story out into the world.
Of course, you don’t reach that stage without the slog. If a story does flow that easily from the get go, chances are it’s already been told before, or it’s not a very interesting story. All of the slabs of stone have to be quarried and dragged into place before they can start to form something more beautiful. I’ve experienced this feeling several times in the past with my screenplays, and even experienced it in the story stage of my novel last year, but this week I felt it in another way with my novel, which was very exciting indeed…
Target Number 1: Spend a minimum of 20 hours editing my novel.
I’m loving work on the novel at the moment, as I can see the story world growing and forming before my very eyes! When I wrote the first draft, I did so with the sole intention of getting the plot down on paper to know where those beats would take the story. The important details were there, and there was some element of history/culture/social structure etc. in the story, but in nowhere near the amount of depth I wanted in a fantasy novel. Now, however, those details are starting to form, and are starting to actually shape the story beyond my own intentions. Story choices have started to be influenced by the rules of my world, in much the same way that stories set in our “real world” are shaped by it. On a couple of occasions, I’ve tried to take the story in one direction, only to be reminded by my characters that this isn’t what they would do. Almost everything I’ve written so far in my career has been grounded in reality and had an immovable touchstone to bring the fantastical elements back to. The novel is completely different in that regard, and to see that whole new world take hold is, well, shining, shimmering and, indeed, splendid. 5hrs 19mins has flown by this week, and the only struggle at the moment is remembering there are other projects that need my attention too!
Target Number 2: Launch my audiobook/podcast.
The initial aim for this “bookcast” is to have a six-episode run to cover the six weeks of the UK summer holiday. Right now, I’m standing on five complete first drafts and a sixth work-in-progress that is gradually making its way to the page between blog posts and dives into fantasy realms. Seeing as they’re a collection of short stories, my first thought was to wait until they were all written and edited before recording them all in a single session/block, but now I’m starting to think that it might be better to spread the recordings to have the time to experiment with the stories within their new format. Things that look good written down may sound clumsy spoken out loud, so some additional time to iron those bits out will more than likely be beneficial. Two of the drafts are in a position where they could be recorded now, which could mean that I, excitingly, begin that process this week when I find the right quiet space to record in (my usual office is currently being mobbed by jackdaws, which is not a happy soundtrack to accompany any kind of story, even a horror!).
Exciting new ground lies ahead on both these targets now, and hopefully with it some fresh momentum to start the summer strong!