As a compulsive multi-tasker, it’s not very often the opportunity arises to down tools and focus on just one thing. The last two weeks have provided that opportunity, and it’s been grabbed with both hands.
To cut a long story short (not the aim of the exercise, but anyway) a novel I had written received some feedback and I spotted something on the horizon, the slight notion that if I get this one right, this could be my chance.
So, I quit facebook and twitter for two weeks and took holidays from work. I spent the first week assessing the strand of my novel that wasn’t working, and incorporated all the improvements asked for. I read up on everything from Freytag’s pyramid to Socrates’ three acts, and studied every chapter of my novel for the right dynamic.
I made a spreadsheet and printed it out. In fact, two spreadsheets, the first for the current story and the second for the revised version. I plotted, planned, went to locations, sourced charms and finally, sat down to write.
I got up at seven each morning and wrote for three hours, as this is my most productive time. I lost one day to migraine, and one day to wandering around the moors (ahem. research). It took a lot of hard work, and I’m first-draft finished.
BUT… a strange thing happened when I started to write. All the neat charting and linear plot buckled under the characters, and they sometimes veered off into another direction, only to return with a better, more heartfelt story. Someone fell in love who wasn’t meant to, and someone accidentally meets someone they didn’t in the original story. In the final chapters, the story began to dance very loosely around the plot line as one character wouldn’t lie down, and made a last stand. With all the foresight and prediction in the world, I couldn’t have planned for what happened in the end. Now I need a third spreadsheet to chart what REALLY happened.
All in all it’s been magical, wonderful, inspiring, very emotional, migraine inducing, tiring, irritating, desperate and filled with love. That’s how I feel about writing. I can’t fully explain it, it’s like a wonderful but sometimes arduous adventure that I can repeat anytime I want to.
Back to the serious business, my instructions are to work on the manuscript and send it back when it’s ‘the best it can be.’ It’s getting close.