Today is an exciting day.
I plan to begin writing my 18th novel.
I say that, but it’s unlikely that I will commence right now. I’m writing this blog post for a start. A classic procrastination technique. After that I might do a bit more research for one of my characters or have a think about what might happen in the first couple of chapters.
Because even though the writing of the first draft is absolutely my favourite part of creating a new book, it also feels quite scary when I land on this 'okay -this is your moment - let’s crack on' square in the game. I get those little voices chatting to me in my head. 'You do know you can't do this, don't you?' they say. 'And the last eighteen were just flukes.' They can be hard to ignore.
It was the lauded novelist Iris Murdoch who said, ‘Every book is the wreck of a perfect idea’ and she wasn't wrong. When the idea for my new book is still in my head and I haven’t yet made the fatal mistake of trying to get it down on ‘paper’ then it might be brilliant, my best yet, with all its little sentences gleaming.
Of course, it’s only when I try to switch from nebulous concept as I imagine it to cold hard words on a page that the bubble is burst and I remember how difficult it is to actually get everything to come together.
As I have said in pretty much every interview I’ve ever given, I don’t plot my books out before I start. My process is organic and intuitive, which is a fancy way of saying that I make it up as I go along.
In practise, this means that in order to start writing all I need is a theme, a couple of characters and an idea of where the story opens.
And I have those for this new book.
Yet here I am writing a blog post instead. After that my pen drawer could do with a tidy, and I really fancy a brownie to go with my coffee so maybe I could make a quick batch.
And then we can see about starting the new book, if it’s not too late in the day . . .
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