A jug fills drop by drop, according to Buddha, and that’s an ideal way to describe the current state of play with my novel: comprised of many (many) drops, going through a purification of sorts, before it is ready to be poured (into the minds of beta readers? OK... I’ll stop with the jug analogy).
The month of January was bittersweet, as far as writing goes. Refreshed from my Nano-break, I thrust myself into revising “Brothers”: a novel born in the Gallery of Modern Art one Sunday afternoon in September 2012, which flourished into a 39k first draft. I imagined it would be the most pleasurable (of all my First Drafts) to shape into a Proper Book first.
Naturally, the story then took a completely different direction, and what I have in my laptop now looks like a very distant cousin of the first draft. I’m very pleased with the new developments, but I can’t help mourning that poor first attempt, with its cardboard plotline and faceless characters. I really thought it was amazing at the time, which alarms me somewhat. Nevertheless, I’m moving forward with it nicely. I'm pleased to report Draft Three has commenced.
Would any other writers care to join me in an admission? Who else gets “author crushes”? Gone are the days where my reading experience is confined to within the covers of a book. Now I absorb everything about an author. I scour their websites. I watch interviews of them on YouTube. I download podcasts in which they appear. January's crushes were JK Rowling and Margaret Atwood.
As previously admitted, I’ve never read a Harry Potter novel. Many see this as a slight on my character, but I was thrilled to be in a rare, impartial position (notwithstanding my adoration after her Harvard Commencement Address) to read The Casual Vacancy . And I loved it. Just… bloody adored it. I had a good cry at the end, for the sake of humanity and its many perils explored in the book. Not long after finishing, I was kneeling on the kitchen floor, surrounded by clothes being sorted into dark & whites for the machine. I was snivelling away when my other half entered the room, took one look at me, and said “Sake… it’s only a book!”
As any writer/reader can imagine, this only further increased my despair.
I picked up Margaret Atwood’s The Year of The Flood from the library and, what with it being “speculative fiction”, I didn’t think I’d be particularly enamoured with it. But I’d heard her writing style was beautiful and I have to say... it really is. I found myself writing down passages that struck me, to join the ever growing passages from novels that inspire me to learn good writing craft. Do you do that too? Care to share them?
Although my ultimate goal is to write novels, I have been seduced by the lure of the Short Story. Virginia Woolf once described her daily diaries as containing “diamonds of the dust heap” and I believe writing short stories would be a perfect opportunity to sift through my own (ever increasing) dust heap in the form of Morning Pages and copious note-taking. There must be diamonds in there somewhere. I have more ideas written down now than I’ll ever be able to work with, so it gives them a fresh opportunity to thrive.
Anyway, I'll stop waffling for now. I do hope everyone is getting on well with their writing. I'll leave you with a photo I took the other day, which might be a useful writing prompt: