As it is the new year I have set myself a challenge, to complete my second novel by my birthday in May. The reality of such a fanciful idea has set in and I’m running scared. What was I thinking? By getting my book ready to publish in May I need to complete it by the end of March. Twice around the editing block and twice through the cover design affords me little room for slacking, which is a shame, because that is my super power, well that and pondering.
In my minds eye I have the figure of 70,000 words, I could get away with 65,000. So far I have 15,000. Even by my poor mathematical calculations that equates to a short fall of 50,000-55,000. A piece of cake – really?
On the plus side today I have felt that the cloud is lifting and the characters are showing their metal. My writing is again an obsession as the characters push their way out of my head and onto the page. Some days I think they have shut up shop and moved on, other times, as with today, they are most definitely alive and well and living in my head. They push me and prod me, whispering sweet nothings into my ear. They are my fiercest critics. They say things like ‘ would I really say that?’ or ‘ You obviously don’t know me at all, I would never do that’. Other times they can be much more magnanimous and offer up the occasional ‘nice’ or ‘I like where you’re going with this’.
My point, if I’m making one is the more time I spend with my characters the more I understand them. Build in time for slacking. I joked about it being my super power earlier but it’s important thinking time. For me it’s when I give my characters time to breath and grow.
When I was writing my début novel All Tomorrow’s Parties the characters began as one thing and ended up (surprisingly) as another. They developed from day to day, bobbing and weaving through the highs and lows I was busy creating for them. Whenever things seemed to coast one of them would say ‘loosing interest in us already?’. Here’s an example of what I mean. Without giving away any spoilers,there is a part in All Tomorrow’s Parties where an antique chair comes into play. Now to an outsider looking in I was spending time browsing in an antique shop in a small Devon village. A nice way to spend a Saturday morning waiting for your kids to finish their activities. Well, yes that was exactly what I was doing. By allowing myself the head space to not think and just browse, my cheeky Laine Marshall planted the seed. Now whilst the chair featured in the book isn’t exactly the same, it provided the inspiration. I must have looked as if I’d been caught short! I darted out of that shop, ran to the car and hurriedly started scribbling. Note to self – carrying a notebook means exactly that! I digress. I had the time to think you see. Consciously or subconsciously I was thinking, my characters did the rest.
So when you next see me browsing through a bookshop, sitting in a coffee shop or walking the dog I may or may not be doing just that!