Yes, I’m a bad blogger. Aside from minutes ago I haven’t looked at my blog for weeks, a month, I don’t know and I feel too guilty to check. It’s been a while. The good news is my fingers were otherwise employed. Nope, not knitting, or learning braille, typing. I was wriitng a new novel. I wrote the whole thing, seventy thousand words nearly, in six weeks.
I didn’t think, I typed.
I didn’t read back what I had written the previous day, I typed.
I didn’t plan ahead, I wrote.
I turned up to a cafe every morning and kick-started the day with two coffees and a thousand new words. I went home and wrote more. I worked, I looked after my children, I ate and slept, and when I could, I wrote more. I wrote ten thousand words in two days – a personal best – but aimed at two thousand a day to keep me happy.
If last year’s Postnatal Depression novel was a dream best left undreamt, then this new one is Christmas.
The idea for the new novel hit me in the face and had me laughing and desperate to write it. And one of the joys about the new idea was that I wasn’t leaning on me for the story. It’s all new. The novel is a romantic comedy so I did a tiny bit of junk-food fuelled research and watched movies (the hard and horrible of a writer), ‘Notting Hill’, ‘You’ve got Mail’, ‘Bridget Jones’ etc. Romcoms are full of embarrassing reversals, high-heeled chases and sickly-sticky situations and I wanted to make sure the novel was going to test my heroine out, so i took to Meg Ryan and company for ideas.
When I wrote my first novel, Unzipped, I was writing to see what happened, when I wrote this one I was writing to make it happen.
I had a week of second guessing myself – too much research? – before the thing took hold. After that, it was game on and by the time I hit three thousand words things were happening that I didn’t expect, oh, you’re a YouTube star, okay and oh, there’s a horse in the lounge room, alright. Unexpected things that happened in Unzipped, too, but not until about thirty thousand words in. And after the first time of the character, Ruby, doing what she wanted she repeatedly took the lead and I typed to keep up.
Character is plot. That’s another expression I’ve heard too many times. And I normally think, ‘oh, shut up you pompous twerp’ and ‘what does that even mean?’
Okay, now I know what it means. It means that if your characters are working for you they will take over. They will do things you expect because you know them and they will do the unexpected because nobody ever really knows anyone.
So that’s it. I said I’d have it done in seven weeks and got it done in six. The experience was magic, the thing that happens fromm brain to keyboard, or pen, is magic. I’d love to find out more about it. Why I type sentences but could never simply say them. Some people apparently dictate their prose intoa machine and type it later. Not me. No way.
And Magic. What happened in the last two months, a brand new idea, a new novel written, and how much I loved watching it all happen, I’m grateful. It was a mystery and it was me. I’m not going to do what I would normally do, pretend it was luck, pretend anyone could do it, pretend that I had no real part in it. I was there and I’m bloody thankful. Especially after last year; the depressing Postnatal Depression novel and how every thousand words was hard fought. This may never happen again, such a quick and joyous write, I relished it while it was happening and I took time to be mindful and be in it, see it for what it was, allow myself to enjoy it.
That’s my big apology folks. That’s why the blog lay dormant. And here is a pre-emptive apology. Like Captain Oates in the Antarctic, but with less ice and much more chance of being seen again, I ‘may be some time.’ Because I have index cards and timelines to attend to for the second draft. And then I have to send it to my editor. And I keep dreaming that she hates it. And she hasn’t seen a word of it yet!
I don’t care. I don’t hate it.
stinky index cards don’t even stink today