I’m now at the “bit past beginning stage”* of writing a novel: part two of series that I hope to be able to talk about in more detail soon.
For me writing a novel is a rather non-linear process. I write scenes, certain dramatic (well, I hope they are) moments, and then I fill in from there. For instance, I’ve already written the final and first scenes of this book – what I currently think are the final and first scenes.
It’s in the filling-in that the real discoveries are made. Those beginning and ending scenes form the north and south that the compass of my mind follows. They’re the bits that bear the most weight in this whole storytelling endeavour, even if I ultimately throw them away.
I don’t plan, much. But if I have these scenes down the rest comes to me – I won’t say easily, because it’s never easy, and from book to book the difficult parts are never the same.
Of course, when I say I don’t plan much, I still write copious notes. Most of which I never look at again, I figure the good stuff sticks, the bad stuff is better off sitting forgotten on the pages of a notebook, or scrawled in an index card. It gets a lot of the crap away from the manuscript itself.
Every time I’ve tried to work away from this “method” I come back to it with a tangled mess.
Still, I reckon I’d never recommend this way of writing to anyone. So much of it is an addictive scrambling in the dark, a shuffling from a clear beginning to a clear ending with a terrifying abyss of uncertainty in between. I suppose you have to be a writer – and a certain type of one at that – to love it.
In the darkness to the dreadful tap, tap, tapping of a keyboard, I feel at home. Even when I’m hating it, I feel at home.
How crazy is that?
(Promise to write about the do’s and don’ts of a book launch next, having worked as a bookseller at quite a few, I have a list!)
*Somewhere between the navel gazing and the finger’s bleeding stage