Wednesday, 3 February 2010

By jove I think I've got it!

Sorry for the radio silence recently - I've been up to my knees (okay, mid calf) in entries to my short story competition! I'm aware of how much time and effort the writers of those stories put into their entries so am taking my time over them. It's fascinating to see how people have interpreted the theme of 'heaven' and there have been some really interesting interpretations.

Other than that, well, to be honest... and this is a bit of a confession ... I haven't been writing.

In fact...

*brace yourselves*

...I haven't written a WORD for two months.

Two months!!!!

That's the longest I've gone without writing for a long, long time. To be honest the end of last year was so mental (promoting book 1, editing book 2, doing the day job, moving house etc) that by the time December rolled around (when I delivered book 2 to my editor) I was absolutely exhausted! I told myself I'd give myself December off and that I'd start 'working' again when my editor returned her edits for novel 2.

Only she hasn't!

That isn't a criticism (she's been busy with other projects that have more pressing deadlines/publication dates) but it threw me a bit. The short story comp closing date wasn't until 15th Jan and I didn't receive the entries until about a week later so I was left with even more time on my hands.

I carried on doing what I'd been doing - watching DVD box sets (The Wire - brilliant, Oz - very good, Dollhouse - slow to get going, Fringe - not for me, Dead Like Me - brilliant), reading (excellent books by Matt Dunn, Lisa Jewell and David Nicholls as well as some graphic novels and some non-fiction) and I waited...

What was I waiting for? (other than the stories and the edits to book 2)

Inspiration to hit.

After seven weeks not writing I was itching to get started on novel 3 but there was one problem...

I couldn't come up with an idea that excited me enough.

I had a character, I knew what job she did and I knew I wanted to write about her. I wanted book 3 to be funny and romantic. I also knew I had to add some kind of supernatural slant but could I come up with an idea that melded all three?


I started to get nervous.

I had a few ideas that were do-able (aka 'okay') but they didn't excite me - they didn't jump about in my head as I walked down the street and say "And you could do this! And add this! And what about this!" - and I got more nervous. I didn't want to write a book that just ticked the supernatural chicklit boxes. I didn't want my readers to feel shortchanged by me just churning something out for the sake of it (I've seen a few Amazon reviews where people have basically accused authors of that). And I really, REALLY didn't want to spend up to a year of my life writing a book that I wasn't excited about.

Seven weeks and nothing. Not a single idea that 'worked'.

Maybe I'll never have another idea that excites me, I thought. Maybe I'm a two book wonder.

And then...


I was cleaning out my purse (something I only do when it's bulging with receipts and used train tickets) and I found an article I'd ripped out of the newspaper and folded up. I read it.

And then it hit me.

Or rather, all the pieces of the jigsaw started to fall together and my tummy did a little flutter.

"This could be it," my brain whispered. "This could novel 3!"

I got out my notebook and scribbled everything down as fast as I could. I went to make some dinner - "Add this!" my brain shouted. "And this! And how about this!"

Tonight I walked home from kickboxing (I graded as a red belt, grade 1 last Saturday!) my brain shouted some more ideas at me and when I walked through the door, instead of taking off my coat, I grabbed my notebook and wrote them all down.

THIS idea excites me. I can see it in my head (i.e. visualise scenes). This story needs to be written (assuming my agent and editors go for it of course!).

So now I can relax. Now I can let my brain whirl away, fill in the gaps, add more to the notebook, pull it all together.

For me this is the best part of writing a novel. The absolute best and I'm going to enjoy it.

Just don't ask me to tell you what it's about because I'm superstitious about that!