Well, after a week of crying into my beer (metaphorically - I hate beer) I am back writing again. That's the longest dry spell I've had in several months. partly I have had to look at writing for the Chaucer project (see my home grown Chaucer blog). One of the kids has a story about a fish she wants to tell in a puppet play form, so I'm writing words even in simple ones. Then I wrote the beginning of a short story which I feel would become a novel if I let it. the theme is really about how babies transform our lives. Not a literary theme maybe, but I was transformed by pregnancy and grew up very smartly when Léonie was born. I think we evolved from self-centred people, who were learning to make ourselves happy, to people who were focused on making Léonie, and each other, happy. Anyway, it's fun writing about people who are somewhat like the ones I actually know.
Going back to Chapter 5 with much more understanding I am creating characters for stories that are starting to speak to me. The O'Connor reading spoke to me (from chapter 11) so clearly I wish I had read it first. I realised this is how I write fiction - I start with a character and a ghost of a story and as the character coalesces in my mind, so the plot starts to form. This main character is clear as day to me, I can see her in black wool jacket, blue jeans, dark, short hair, blue eyes. She's standing in the doorway of the bookshop, bag wrapped around her purchase, waiting for the downpour to easy so she can head to the cafe. She's got the resilience of youth but the first lines of age and responsibility beginning to crease the skin around her eyes. I like her, but she wouldn't have much patience with me, not someone her mother's generation. Anyway, she's driving and living this story and I get to type it. She's eyeing up this older man, at the moment, I didn't expect that. I think her life is so routine, so tiring and public, that she craves a secret of her own, even if just a fantasy about a married man.
I'm playing with the prospectuses again. I have looked at Winchester but to be honest, this divide between writing led and story led fiction is starting to seem bigger than I thought. I know there are a few fantastic stories that do both, but I don't always choose them. I am a complete story junkie. I think that's what draws me to writing, all these tales running in my head all the time. Portsmouth seems slightly more story driven and the emphasis is on producing a book at the end rather than lots of literary reviews or poetry. I'll contact them and see where it goes.