Saturday, 26 March 2016

Still racing on

Another week of plot twists and characters surprising me. I've slowed down a bit (phew) and have written another eleven thousand words, the book is developing nicely and I know how it ends (sort of). It will be a relief when the Twins book comes back from my helpful agent with ideas on how to improve it, tidy it up etc. to see if it's ready to go out into the world. Scary stuff but exciting. 

The cottage we bought is in Appledore, a great fishing village full of lovely, friendly people. I have joined the Appledore book Festival volunteers, and hope to do some stewarding in September. I so enjoyed some of the workshops there last year.

My absolute favourite was a workshop given by two printmakers, one of which lives in North Devon called Merlyn Chesterman. I absolutely love her woodcuts, and she ran off a massive print while we were there, incredible. If I had a big enough wall I would want to buy one of these:

And if I had an even bigger wall I would go for one of the Pine Feroda prints that she is part of. She has a wall of prints at the Coffee Cabin in Appledore and her studio is in Hartland. I love prints, they do something that paintings don't do for me, they are like - well, printing words as opposed to scribbling in pencil. There is something permanent and authoritative about them. 

Making prints makes me write poetry, I don't know why. I've been teaching poetry all over the place and it's making me work on new drafts and old ones. Poetry makes you think about all the connected meanings of words, how they don't just have a dictionary meaning but carry culture and history and mean different things to different people. Words are wonderful. 

Friday, 18 March 2016

A really productive week

I'm at 26k, the tension is ramping up and I've fallen in love with my new character. This must be what it's like to have a plan for a book. Because I've already written this story before (eight years ago) there's a broad structure and I know the three principal characters very well. My writing rate is higher because I don't have to keep stopping to let the plot ferment, it's just developing from the original basic story. At this rate it will be done and dusted by June, ready to go away for a while to rise like dough, so I can work on it when all the ideas have settled in. Hopefully by the end it's one coherent book, and all in my head at the same time. At the moment I keep forgetting what the cat's called and whether I named her sister. I like my main character, Phoebe. I realise I tend to write about damaged women who fight back for their place in the world, never truer than for this character.

My inspiration was a book I read many years ago abut the seven women who were attacked by the Yorkshire Ripper (Peter Sutcliffe) who didn't die. He killed 13 women in total, which is dreadful enough, but attacked these others with the intention of killing them. While I am glad they survived, it must have been a long road to recovery, both physical and psychological. 

I was also inspired by an interview with Richard Kuklinski, the 'Ice Man'. As a psychopath, he was interested in his own psychological landscape, and that fascinated me. He killed (in his own words) approximately a hundred or more. I have some sympathy for the man despite his crimes - he had a nature that couldn't empathise with his victims and was exploited as a hit man. The questions was raised, was he a product of his abusive childhood or of his genes, as the child of a psychopath? 

Tuesday, 15 March 2016

The great satisfaction of writing new stories

I'm loving writing new stories. One of the things they don't warn you about is that most of the work of writing a book is actually rewriting, editing, polishing. Because I started several books at the same time they all needed reworking at the same time - oops. I got bogged down in edits. The Secrets of Time and Fate needed its final tweaking - just as important as the first structural edits - and just as time consuming. On the plus side, I really enjoyed sailing down the Mediterranean with my characters, feeling the waves under the keel, rowing in silence past Barbary slavers at midnight, exploring Brindisi and Crete and Corfu in the sixteenth century. The contemporary showdown was fun to write too, rounding off my characters' stories.

Now I'm writing new stuff, and for once I have a plan! Not a very comprehensive plan, admittedly, but I have the structure of a previous book to work from, and that's helping. My three principals come from a book I wrote years ago, and although the focus has changed they haven't, not very much. I've managed to find four writing days in the last week, and have already written 16k words. I think this intensive writing is possible because I do already know where the story is headed, I don't have to work out what happens next all the time. Assuming the book will be about 100k at the end of the first draft, I'm hoping to be at 25k by the end of the week - a quarter of the way. How satisfying is that? When I get stuck, I'm going back to the Lorina project, which is taking shape too. I do realise I'll fall into the doldrums at some point, but I'm enjoying myself in the meantime.

I've been asked to teach a novel writing workshop, which I'm working on. That should be fun! I also met a load of new writers at Okehampton, lovely people with a passion for writing. I'm looking forward to seeing what they come up with. Creative writing groups in North Devon are thriving.