Saturday 24 October 2015

Drawing a Blank


Sorry, that should have been screamed into the void, but it escaped.

I am suffering at the moment. Secret Order is twisting the sanity out of me.

This is my latest novel, and my first attempt at a trilogy. Something fast-paced and peculiar. It started off really well, born of two earlier short stories I bashed together. But the steam has blown out of it. Rolling to a halt like a joy ride after the stinger is deployed. 

Just past 26,000 words but I'm clawing each one of them from the air.

Partly it's because I've been travelling back and forth between counties since returning to the UK two months ago. I have family and friends scattered about the UK, so spreading myself between them.

Partly it's not being at home - my own home - where I can wander about my house, sit on my porch, contemplate, procrastinate and write without worrying about the rhythm of other people. I love my family and friends, I do. But I also - like most writers - love my solitude. No accidental interruptions or social decisions to be made. Of course I came back to the UK to be sociable, and to spend time with people I wouldn't ordinarily see, so writing can wait. 

Partly it's a genuine problem with the plot. I set off at a hundred miles an hour, got too clever for myself, and now can't see where I'm going. It's also a monumental shift from literary fiction to something a little more jaunty. Complete switch from my usual style of writing. With previous books I've had a good couple of pages to work out what's happening next. This is a real dervish of a story.

Partly, it's having no one to talk to about it. I have some fabulous beta readers. People who are really good at telling me whether something hangs together, whether the tone is right, whether the continuity is there. But it takes a specific type of mind to work through a plot over a couple of pints. Someone who gets what you're trying to achieve and can speak the language of 'what ifs' without 'what if'ing it into a parallel dimension. 

Partly I'm in the post-submission flump. I've signed off Children of Lir to Ghostwoods. A solid, poetic pile of prose which I'm very much looking forward to seeing in print. But all the time I was finishing that up, I was thinking Yay - now I can start work on Secret Order. Now Children of Lir is finished I don't have an excuse anymore not to be working on Secret Order, except the excuse of - Oh, maybe I should keep my desk clear for when CoL comes to edit, so my head is still in the right space. Like writing something else might ruin my mind.

Essentially, I'm just useless. The only way to get through this is to write my way through it. 

I've just been listening to Victoria Schwab on Tea & Jeopardy, and she suggested a fabulous way to attain "a reduced sense of self-loathing." Which is to get a calender and set up a sticky-star award system for yourself. A star for 500 words written, 1,000 words written, X number of pages read etc. Perhaps I could also award myself for the number of cups of coffee quaffed? 

I think it may come to this.

More and more lately, I've been thinking about how much I'd like to co-write something with someone. I haven't got any further or more specific than that. I just think it might be fun - and more productive - to collaborate on something for a while. Suggestions welcome.

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